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Plea Deal Nears in Tax Office Scandal; Gandhi Reacts

Post staffer Del Quentin Wilber is reporting today that Harriette Walters, the alleged mastermind of the $50 million tax office embezzlement scandal, appears to have worked out a plea deal with federal prosecutors that could be finalized tomorrow.

Wilber writes: Federal prosecutors filed a document in court today known as a "criminal information," which outlined the charges facing Walters and the case against her. That type of document can be filed only with the consent of the defendant, and only after the defendant has waived his or her right to have the case reviewed by a grand jury. It typically signals that a plea agreement has been struck. The document also refers to a plea agreement when discussing property that Walters would have to forfeit as part of a negotiated deal.

In a statement, D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi said: "This is a major milestone in this difficult and sad experience for the District." It is my hope that Ms. Walters, and all of her co-conspirators will, receive the severest penalties available and that those sentences will serve as a warning to anyone who is even contemplating defrauding the city. And, the investigation should not end until that last possible dollar is recovered from the wrongdoers."

Since the scandal, Gandhi has sought to restore confidence in his office. He has hired several high-ranking deputies, including tax director Stephen Cordi and internal investigations chief Robert Andary. New controls were established that require higher-level signoffs before property tax refund checks are sent to businesses.

But other promised reforms have moved slowly. Gandhi established an audit committee chaired by D.C. lawyer Sheldon Cohen, but that group has yet to file a report. A D.C. Council investigation that is being conducted by the law firm Wilmer Hale also has not wrapped up.

By David A Nakamura  |  September 15, 2008; 2:37 PM ET
Categories:  City Finances  
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Comments

Didn't I read this already this morning in the Examiner? Kinda sad that the Post got scooped on this by that rag. Even sadder that the Post doesn't mention where the story first appeared.

Posted by: Sigh | September 15, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why Natwar Ghandi still has a job; he should have been fired since this happened on his watch. FIRE HIM!

Posted by: Black and Bitter Like Coffee | September 15, 2008 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Natwar Gandhi should be prosecuted, convicted, and given the most severe penalty. This happened under his watch and he is thus responsible for the massive fraud.

Its a farce, an absolute total farce, for Gandhi to urge the most severe penalties for Walter when he is equally guilty.

Fire Gandhi. Fire him now.

If Mayor Fenty does not dismiss Gandhi, then voters should recall Fenty from office.

Posted by: White and Sweet Like Cream | September 15, 2008 6:26 PM | Report abuse

This huge scandal happened under Gandhi's watch and now he is calling for "the harshest penalties"...What amazing gall...he should be packing his bags instead.

Wake up Fenty, for the sake of D.C.

Posted by: Annie Laurie | September 15, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I personally think that everyone who had close contact with this woman should have known that something was wrong, I mean I've heard of people being nice and loaning folks money but come on, shopping trips, lavish gifts and buying lunch everyday for all of her staff members. Gandhi should be at the least investigated as well. He is getting off scott-free and everyone else is fired. I have also heard the some folks have been fired and not prosecuted. I think that the heat should still be on for those who took a piece of bread from this lady during the time this scandal was going on.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

How is Natwar Ghandi calling for the severest penalities for all those involved...when HE is the major figure of this scandle. When the Summer Youth program hit the fan with all its BS, the MAyor fired the agency director. Why wasn't that same course of action followed with this situation!

Mayor Fenty is working VERY HARD at being a one-term mayor!

Posted by: Disgruntled DC Government Employee | September 16, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

I knew Harriette Walters by face because she frequented the store I once worked at in D.C. She purchased $$ items, was clearly intelligent and liked being a "somebody".

She was not "my customer", was loyal to someone else, but she did spend big money on designer goods. It makes me sad to think all her money was stolen, the harm she has caused including dragging friends and family members into her tangled scheme. You can never be too sure of people, they may not be what they seem.

Posted by: Susanna | September 16, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Fire and put in prison-Fenty, Ghandi and Jack Evans for supporting such scandal

Posted by: Anonymous for fear of retaliation | September 16, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

$50M stolen and I'll bet she doesn't get 10 years. If she had robbed a bank she would get more time than she will for this crime. Why? Because the Federal prosecutors don't really care about crime in the District. They just want a conviction and will plea bargin down to get one.

Posted by: Big Jim | September 16, 2008 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Find it strange that Gandhi was in charge of this particular Property Tax Refund function for 3 years and then was promoted. Likewise fired Walters bosses after scandal broke. Then called these losses "immaterial". Strike Three - batter out!

Posted by: Yoga Bear | September 17, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Gandhi needs to go to !! How can the Mayor or or taxpayers have any confidence in his leadership ? He is part of the problem!!
Is Harriet Walters white or Black, I am curious ! Maybe she is white, to have convinced so many people to buy into her
scam!
I am the average American, who is honest and working hard to stay afloat, pay my bills, help my family, and do the right thing. This scam rubs me the wrong way !!

Honesty and integrity "always wins".

Posted by: Renee | September 21, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Gandhi needs to go to !! How can the Mayor or or taxpayers have any confidence in his leadership ? He is part of the problem!!
Is Harriet Walters white or Black, I am curious ! Maybe she is white, to have convinced so many people to buy into her
scam!
I am the average American, who is honest and working hard to stay afloat, pay my bills, help my family, and do the right thing. This scam rubs me the wrong way !!

Honesty and integrity "always wins".

Posted by: Renee | September 21, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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