D.C. employee gets 17 years for $52M theft

June 30, 2009 at 3:35 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 30 (UPI) -- A former Washington city employee was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison Tuesday for embezzling almost $50 million from the District of Columbia.

Harriette Walters, 52, pleaded guilty to writing checks for fraudulent property tax refunds. A federal judge gave her 17 ½ years, close to the maximum of the 15 to 18 years in her plea agreement, The Washington Post reported.

"As someone who lived in the District in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, and particularly someone who worked in city government, Walters knew full well just how tough times were for the District of Columbia and its vulnerable citizens," the prosecutors wrote, asking for a stiff sentence. "Yet, she stole anyhow, repeatedly and in amounts that shock the conscience."

Investigators said that Walters wrote more than 230 checks, some to friends and others to people involved in her conspiracy. Between 2000 and 2007, she wrote 152 checks with a total value of $42 million.

While prosecutors said Walters spent millions of dollars on gambling trips and high-end shopping, her lawyer, Steven Tabackman, said she was also motivated by a desire to be a benefactor.

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