Last weekend I decided to walk northeast on Nebraska Avenue, curve up Oregon Avenue, and then take Western all the way home. It was probably the most boring walk of my life. There is nothing to see there. It's just house after house.
Perhaps I should have looked a little deeper. Sure, the walk featured nothing but houses and a military retirement community. But one of the houses was special. One of the houses was not just a house, but a home. A home to the greatest thief in the history of DC. 6880 Oregon Avenue, NW. The home of Harriette Walters.
The Washington Post is reporting that Walters stole approximately $50,000,000.00 without anyone noticing. Which is shocking, but not too shocking. The Examiner has been reporting that the amount that Walters (and her accomplices) had fleeced from the noble DC taxpayer was actually quite higher than previously reported.
What's really shocking is the culture that had allowed this theft to happen. Here you have a government employee giving away money to her co-workers and not asking for any repayment. Here are a few excerpts from the Post story detailing how Walters's colleagues and friends were all too willing to look the other way:
Two of the sources, who are familiar with the accounts of witnesses, said the gifts included $35,000 to a co-worker who wanted to remodel her house, $25,000 in cash and luxury gifts to an assistant whom Walters began mentoring and $15,000 each to help two co-workers' daughters pay for renovations and credit card bills.
Walters repeatedly lent huge chunks of cash to colleagues with no requests for repayment, the two sources quoted witnesses as saying. And, said the sources, citing witnesses, Walters paid for her goddaughter's college tuition and a New Jersey home for $855,000. The goddaughter's attorney declined to comment on the case.
Walters took young women in her office, even those she knew only casually, on four-figure shopping sprees at Saks and Neiman Marcus and picked up the tab, according to information provided to authorities. Witnesses have told investigators that Walters also gave hundreds of dollars, over time, to security guards outside the tax agency's North Capitol Street office, the sources familiar with the probe said.
It was not unusual, sources said, for Walters to give a wad of cash to her assistant to buy breakfast or lunch for her 15-member office -- two or three times a week.
Some of the missing city money went toward buying property in the Washington area, New Jersey and the Caribbean, prosecutors have said, as well as for luxury cars, Louis Vuitton handbags and gambling trips to Atlantic City and Las Vegas.
Sorry for all the italics, but it's important to note how fucking ridiculous it is that no one realized that something was afoot. Shopping sprees, property buys, lending money with no expectation for repayment. These all passed the smell test? If a co-worker randomly gave me thousands of dollars, I would assume that money was ill-gotten. So I don't see how this could have been going on for 18 years without someone speaking up.
Wait, yes I do. Their silence was bought. They didn't want to rock the boat when their financial needs were being met by the richest government employee in American history. In my mind, that makes them all guilty. Every last one.
And just for shits and giggles:
We might as well have set that money on fire for all the good it did. Or, even better, Gandhi should have just let Walters steal it. It would add a few more decades to her richly deserved time in a federal penitentiary.
When this investigation is complete, I will be shocked if Gandhi still has a job in the DC government. I've been calling for his firing for months now. It's becoming more and more inevitable.
In the meantime, we can prepare ourselves for one kick ass tax auction.
*Dalecarlia Parkway, at least in terms of walking, is not all that. All blind corners and no sidewalks. Walk at your own risk.