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District Embezzlement Case Widens

POSTED: 12:56 PM ET, 05/22/2008 by Derek Kravitz

The District's Office of Tax and Revenue remains in the headlines -- two today.

A third conspirator in a far-reaching embezzlement case, 33-year-old Walter Jones of Essex, Md., has pled guilty to being involved in the biggest fraud in the District's history, the embezzlement of $20 million to $50 million by Tax and Revenue employees who wrote bogus property tax refund checks to themselves.

Another man, 33-year-old Ricardo Walters, pleaded guilty May 2 to money laundering and receiving stolen property and, on Monday, 40-year-old Marilyn Yoon, a former Louis Vuitton store employee in Tysons Corner, pleaded guilty to possession of property obtained by fraud.

Eight other people are awaiting trial in the case.

Analysis by The Post's Carol D. Leonnig and Dan Keating revealed shortly after the initial arrests that the scope of the fraud could be much larger than federal investigators were alleging.

The Office of Tax and Revenue also came under criticism yesterday from D.C. Auditor Deborah K. Nichols who found more than $2 million in excessive and unnecessary payments to consultant Accenture.

Accenture has been paid $135 million since 1998 to create the District's Integrated Tax System and run it, and is currently receiving about $5 million a year.

Nichols said the hourly rates are too high, the annual cost increases are too large and millions of dollars worth of work was tacked on to the contract. She specified about $2 million in unnecessary costs, mostly tied to payments for Accenture employee apartment rentals of $3,000 per month, airfares, taxis, car rentals and other costs.

The audit was prompted by a Post story showing how the $63 million contract had paid more than $90 million without ever being modified, violating government contracting law.

The Chief Financial Officer denied that any excessive fees were paid.

By Derek Kravitz |  May 22, 2008; 12:56 PM ET D.C. Region
Previous: FBI Interrogation Report Shows Internal War | Next: McCain's Man, The Rebel and Abramoff

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