WEEK IN REVIEW

Headed Out The head of
Headed Out The head of "The Awakening" is unearthed in preparation for transporting it to National Harbor. (By Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Tab in Tax Office Scam Nears $50 MillionSuspected Gifts to Co-Workers Are Investigated

Federal authorities think that almost $50 million was stolen in an embezzlement scheme run out of the D.C. tax office, more than double the amount they had previously uncovered, four sources close to the investigation said.

The corruption at the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue went undetected much longer than initially thought, the sources said, extending back almost 20 years. In addition to tracking the missing money, authorities are looking into gifts suspected of being provided to co-workers and others by the woman accused of leading the scam, former tax office manager Harriette Walters. Walters is among 10 people charged in the case.

Bodies' Decay Obscures Cause of DeathProsecutors Plan Murder Charges for Mother

Pathologists cannot pinpoint the cause of death for four girls who police say were killed last year by their mother because their bodies were so badly decomposed when they were found, city officials said.

Prosecutors intend to move forward with murder charges against the mother, Banita Jacks, who is accused of killing the girls, ages 6 to 17, at their home in Southeast Washington. Jacks has been jailed since the bodies were found Jan. 9 by U.S. marshals, who came to her house to serve an eviction notice. Authorities said the children appeared to have been dead for months.

Cameras Cut Violence, Police SaySkeptics Suspect Crime Has Been Displaced

The use of surveillance cameras by D.C. police has lowered violence in some areas of the city and helped to identify suspects and solve crimes, police officials told the D.C. Council. Police recently began live monitoring of the cameras, posted in 73 locations.

But some remain skeptical, and council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) is questioning whether the $4 million supply of cameras merely shifts crime to other spots. In a report to the council, police officials said violent crime decreased 19 percent within 250 feet of each of the cameras, which the city began installing in August 2006. Citywide, violent crime was up slightly last year.

Parking Enforcers Test High-Tech ToolsCameras That Read License Plates Are Tried

Beware, all you parking meter feeders and restricted zone overtimers. The swift and unblinking eye of the mobile parking camera may be coming your way.

The District's Department of Public Works is evaluating several systems that would enable parking officers to swing past cars quickly with a license plate reader or similar technology to catch violators.

Litigation on Emergency Services to EndSlain Journalist's Family Cites Gains in Care

The family of a slain journalist, whose death exposed problems with the District's emergency medical care system, said that the city has made significant improvements. David E. Rosenbaum's relatives, who agreed last year to forgo a lawsuit against the D.C. government as long as reforms were made, said they were satisfied with the city's efforts and will end the litigation.

Rosenbaum, 63, died of a brain injury in January 2006, two days after he was mugged. He had recently retired from the New York Times, and he was out for an after-dinner walk when he was attacked by two men. D.C. firefighters and emergency medical workers failed to notice a severe head wound that had been inflicted with a metal pipe, and they treated him as a drunk, investigations found. Other mistakes followed, the D.C. inspector general determined. Over the past year, the city has improved training and supervision and taken other steps to improve services, the Rosenbaum family said.

D.C. Treasure Goes to Pr. George'sSculpture Moves on Trucks and a Barge

The cast aluminum sculpture known as "The Awakening" left its earthen home on the southernmost tip of Washington's Hains Point and made its way on a convoy of three flatbed trucks and then a barge to a new sandy beach on the eastern shore of the Potomac River.

The sculpture, with its giant leg, foot, hand and bearded face, had risen from the ground at Hains Point since 1980. Milton V. Peterson spent at least $725,000 to move and anchor it at his soon-to-open National Harbor waterfront development in Prince George's County.


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