Store Employee Pleads Guilty in City Tax Scheme

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A woman who worked at fashionable stores in Tysons Corner pleaded guilty yesterday to a fraud charge, becoming the second person to enter a plea in the massive embezzlement scheme at the D.C. tax office, federal prosecutors said.

Marilyn Yoon, 40, a Derwood resident and former Louis Vuitton store employee, pleaded guilty in federal court in Greenbelt to possession of property obtained by fraud, authorities said.

The plea was connected to a scheme in which millions of dollars were stolen from the tax office, according to the federal prosecutors for the District and for Maryland.

Authorities alleged that up to $50 million was disbursed in checks as fraudulent property tax refunds in what is called the biggest embezzlement of municipal funds in the District's history.

Harriette Walters, 51, a former manager at the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue, is accused of directing the scheme over several years. New details about the scheme's workings appeared in a statement released yesterday by prosecutors in connection with Yoon's plea.

In announcing the plea, prosecutors said Yoon received a fraudulent check from a "co-conspirator," whom they did not name. But a statement of facts, which was made available, said the check was given by Walters.

Yoon, according to the statement of facts, met Walters about eight years ago, when Yoon was a sales consultant at the Vuitton store, "where Harriette Walters shopped frequently." The statement said that the "professional relationship" between the two continued after Yoon went to work at the Neiman Marcus store in Tysons and that the two became "personal friends" as Yoon aided Walters with purchases.

Essentially, according to a statement from the prosecutors, a co-conspirator gave Yoon a fraudulent D.C. government check for $275,000 last May. The statement said Yoon deposited the check into the bank account of her husband's business. She was told to use funds from the check to send a $125,000 cashier's check to a business.

Yoon used the remaining $150,000 "to make a personal loan to a family member and remodel her home," the statement said.

A message left yesterday at a number listed to Yoon was returned by someone who referred calls to a lawyer who has been listed as Yoon's attorney. A message left at the number provided was not returned.

On May 2, Ricardo R. Walters, 33, a Fort Washington resident and Harriette Walters's nephew, pleaded guilty to money laundering and receiving stolen property as part of the alleged scheme. Sentencing for Yoon was scheduled for Sept. 12.

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