A Washington, D.C., tax corruption case that has resulted in tens of millions of dollars being stolen from D.C. government coffers now allegedly involves an IRS manager who is said to have been involved in the fraud scheme.
Robert Steven and his wife, Patricia Steven, were arrested in Maryland Thursday and charged with receiving stolen property and aiding and abetting in the fraud.
According to an affidavit prepared by FBI Agent Matthew Walsh, Robert Steven had an apparent affinity for Jaguars, saying, "Records obtained from a local automobile dealership indicate that between 2003 and the present, Robert O. Steven purchased four Jaguar automobiles for a total of $257,866, the most recent being a 2007 Jaguar convertible for $96,770.95."
The affidavit also notes that Steven worked as a division director for the Modernization Information Technology Systems at the IRS and had an annual salary of $143,471.
The case came to light when a bank employee tipped off the FBI to an alleged scheme run by Harriette Walters, a manager at the D.C. Real Property Tax Administration Adjustments unit and Diane Gustus at the D.C. Office of Tax Revenue.
The pair allegedly approved and issued fraudulent property tax refund checks that averaged $388,000 per check. Investigators say the funds were used to buy luxury goods, including jewelry, homes and clothing.
According to affidavits filed in the case, Walter's annual salary as a District of Columbia employee was $81,000, but from September 2000 to the present, she is said to have spent more than $1.4 million at Neiman Marcus.
Court records and an affidavit filed in the case allege that 11 checks totaling almost $2.8 million were issued and deposited into a bank account held and used by Robert and Patricia Steven. The documents claim that a check authorized by Walters on June 30, 2006, for the sum of $490,000 was deposited into the Steven's bank account July 10, 2006.
"Agents and prosecutors in Washington, D.C., and Maryland are working diligently to trace every dollar that was stolen from the D.C. Tax Office. My advice to anyone who profited from this scheme is to call the FBI today, and don't wait for us to contact you," said Rod Rosenstein, U.S. attorney for Maryland.
The case has been prosecuted by the U.S. Attorneys for Maryland and District of Columbia working with agents from the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation. Court documents filed in November revealed that in addition to allegedly spending more than $1.4 million at Neimen Marcus, Walters also purchased several properties, including a $420,000 house in Washington and two homes in New Jersey.
The New Jersey homes include a $389,000 home in Washington and a $855,000 property in Bridgeport purchased by Walters.