Sixth Defendant in D.C. Property Tax Refund Fraud Scheme Pleads Guilty
Over $9 Million in Fraudulent District of Columbia Checks Deposited Into Account of Former IRS Employee Robert O. Steven; Used Funds to Purchase at Least Four Jaguars, a Townhouse and Vacations to the Bahamas
Greenbelt, Maryland - Former IRS employee Robert O. Steven, age 55, of Edgewater, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to receipt of stolen property and conspiracy to commit money laundering in connection with a property tax refund scheme in which millions of dollars were stolen from the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jeffrey A. Taylor. As part of his plea agreement, Steven agreed to a money judgment of $9,272,312 and, in order to satisfy such money judgment, to forfeit three Jaguar cars, two residences, jewelry and monies held in four bank accounts.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein stated, “This case is particularly egregious because Richard Steven was an IRS employee when he joined in this conspiracy to steal millions of dollars from D.C. taxpayers and spend the money on luxury items. We are committed to ensuring that any government employee who betrays the public trust and steals from the taxpayers is held accountable. We will seek the forfeiture of all criminal proceeds and property purchased with stolen money because victims deserve restitution and criminals must not be permitted to profit from their crimes.”
“Money laundering is tax evasion in progress. It is fuel for criminals to conduct their criminal affairs and is used to manipulate and erode our financial systems,” said C. Andre' Martin, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation's Washington Field Office.
According to court documents, Robert Steven was employed with the IRS since 1975. At the time of his arrest, Steven’s position was Division Director, Modernization Information Technology Systems, and his office was located at the IRS National Office in New Carrollton, Maryland.
According to the plea agreement, Steven and a co-conspirator opened a business that eventually developed into a clothing design business called “Bellarmine Design.” Bellarmine Design never grossed more than $15,000 in a single year. From 1990 to 2007, 67 deposits in the form of fraudulently obtained District of Columbia government checks or cash proceeds from the scheme totaling $9,272,312.57 were made into a Bellarmine Design checking account maintained by Steven and the co-conspirator. The individual checks ranged in amounts from a handful of initial deposits over $4,000 each, to subsequent deposits of up to $490,000.
Steven and the co-conspirator transferred at least $1,709,500 of these funds into another bank account used primarily by Steven. Using these funds, Steven purchased at least four Jaguar cars, a townhouse located in Edgewater, Maryland and multiple vacations to the Bahamas.
Steven faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for receipt of stolen property and 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the transactions involved, whichever is greater, for conspiracy to commit money laundering. U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams, Jr. has scheduled his sentencing for September 8, 2008 at 9:30 a.m.
Within the past couple months, Connie Alexander, age 52, of Bowie; Richard Walters, age 49, both of Bowie, Maryland; Walter Jones, age 33, of Essex, Maryland; Marilyn Yoon, age 40, of Derwood, Maryland; and Ricardo R. Walters, age 33, of Ft. Washington, Maryland, have pleaded guilty in connection with the property tax refund scheme. Ricardo Walters, Richard Walters and Alexander each face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for receipt of stolen property and 20 years in prison for conspiracy to commit money laundering at their sentencing on July 23, September 8 and 25, 2008, respectively. Walter Jones faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the transactions involved, whichever is greater, for conspiracy to commit money laundering at his sentencing on September 11, 2008. Marilyn Yoon faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for possession of property obtained by fraud at her sentencing on September 12, 2008.
United States Attorneys Rod J. Rosenstein and Jeffrey A. Taylor thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation; the Inspector General’s Office for the District of Columbia; the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue, Criminal Investigation Division; the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration; and the District of Columbia Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of Integrity and Oversight for their investigative work. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorneys Jonathan Su and Deborah Johnston from the District of Maryland and Assistant United States Attorneys Timothy Lynch and David Johnson from the District of Columbia, who are prosecuting the case.