WASHINGTON -- A year after the $50 million property tax refund scam first broke in the District of Columbia, a report says the city still needs to do more to detect theft and wrongdoing.
The tax scam was the biggest in the city's history, and some officials fear other thieves could be working in government without being found.
A 100-page independent review for the D.C. Council says the tax office was a den of wrongdoing and neglect that went on for 20 years.
The report will be used to revamp watchdog agencies that failed to uncover this scam and maybe others, according to the council.
Harriette Walters, a longtime manager in the city's property tax office, admitted orchestrating the theft of almost $50 million dollars and lavishing it on herself, family, friends, coworkers and co-conspirators, authorities said.
Walters, who is to be sentenced in March, is one of 11 people who've pleaded guilty. Another 30 tax office employees have lost their jobs.
The report offered new insight into the $48 million stolen through fake refund checks. In the past 10 years, investigators found that while the average legitimate refund check for property taxes was only $7,300, the average illegal refund was $275,000. The tax fraud began with small amounts of money and ballooned into illegal checks worth more than a half-million dollars.
D.C. Chief Financial Officer Nat Gandhi said his office has made many reforms and is making others.
A systematic review of every city agency still may be needed to detect any other, ongoing frauds.