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Woman pleads guilty in theft

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 20, 2008

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Montgomery County woman pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday in connection with a tax refund embezzlement scheme run by former members of the District's tax office.

Marilyn Yoon, 40, of Derwood, faces a possible 10 years in prison for her guilty plea to possession of more than $526,000. Federal authorities say the money came from at least $20 million stolen over seven years by workers in the city's tax office.

According to a plea agreement, Yoon met tax office chief Harriette Walters when she came to shop at the Tysons Corner Louis Vuitton store where Yoon worked as a saleswoman in 2000.

Miss Walters is accused of directing a plot in which tax-office employees wrote and cashed fake property-tax refunds. Prosecutors say she used much of the money for shopping sprees, including $1.4 million at the high-end department store Neiman Marcus. Yoon later worked at Neiman Marcus in Tysons Cormer after leaving the Louis Vuitton store.

The women were friends, and the plea agreement states that Miss Walters eventually gave Yoon cash gifts totaling $251,000 that Yoon thought were legitimate.

In February 2007, Miss Walters asked Yoon to deposit a $483,000 check into her own bank account. The bank refused to deposit the check.

But in May, Miss Walters gave Yoon a $275,000 check and asked her to deposit it into an account held by Yoon's husband's business.

That check went through, and Yoon then wrote a $125,000 check to a plumbing company owned by Miss Walters' brother. Yoon used the remaining money to remodel her home and make a loan to a family member. The plea agreement states that she suspected the money from Miss Walters was the result of fraud but deposited it anyway.

As part of her plea deal in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Yoon must repay the $526,000 she received from Miss Walters. She also faces a possible $250,000 fine when she is sentenced in next month. Ten people were charged in the scheme. One of them, Harriette Walters' nephew Ricardo Walters, pleaded guilty earlier this month.