Thomases ordered to pay full restitution in drainage district tax fraud case

Allan and Joann Thomas will have to pay more than $923,000 in restitution and forfeiture.

Locals Allan and Joann Thomas, convicted of stealing more than $460,000 from Enumclaw taxpayers, have been ordered to pay full restitution and nearly the same amount in forfeiture.

Federal prosecutors asked Judge Richard A. Jones for the Thomases to pay more than $468,000 back to roughly 700 taxpayers during a May 9 hearing, as well as more than $455,000 in forfeiture to the government for a total of close to $923,000.

A quick recap: Allan, a former commissioner for the special taxing district Drainage District 5, came under suspicion of financial wrongdoing in late 2017. It took two years for the investigation made its way to the county, and then to the feds, who finally charged the Thomases with wire fraud in September 2019 for using a shell company to funnel taxpayer money into their pockets, rather to the drainage district, which is charged with maintaining drainage ditches around the city.

A year later, the government filed additional charged of conspiracy, four counts of mail fraud, four counts of wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, and finally, four counts of money laundering.

The Thomases were convicted in May 2022. Joann Thomas guilty of all charges; Allan was found guilty of most, but not the second count of identity theft, nor money laundering.

Both were sentenced last February to 2.5 years in prison and three years supervised release; they were originally scheduled to report to prison on May 31, but due to Allan’s medical issues, their report date has been delayed.

The Thomases’ defense attorneys — Terrence Kellogg for Joann, John Henry Browne for Allan — had already agreed to the full forfeiture amount, but argued for reduced restitution.

Kellogg claimed that if taxpayer money didn’t go to the drainage district, it would have been sent elsewhere (the tax money is collected by King County and then distributed to special tax districts). He added that Enumclaw also suffered no ill effects, like flooding, due to the lack of drainage ditch upkeep.

“No harm, no foul,” he said.

And Browne noted that the Thomases themselves were taxpayers in the district, and said restitution should be deducted based on how much they were taxed over the years.

Prosecutor Justin Arnold countered that restitution has already been reduced according to the Thomas’ tax payments.

In the end, Judge Richards sided with prosecutors. While it appears full payment is possible — attorneys noted the Thomases can sell some land for a possible $2 million — the land is in a trust, and it will take time to get the money.

Once those assets are liquidated, local taxpayers will be issued a check for what they were taxed between 2012 and 2019.