- Politics and Social Issues»
- Crime & Law Enforcement
Trial Approaches in D.C.'s $100 Million Suit Against Bank of America
A $100 Million Blame Game in Washington, D.C.
The District of Columbia’s lawsuit to collect more than $100 million in damages after accusing the Bank of America of embezzlement is moving closer to trial.
A key piece of evidence could be the upcoming video deposition of Harriette Walters, a former manager in D.C.’s Office of Tax and Revenue, according to a report by The Legal Forum (www.legal-forum.net). She is serving a 17-year sentence at the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ medium-security penitentiary in Marianna, Florida.
Walters is either the ringleader or a just one of several conspirators in the embezzlement scheme, depending on whether lawyers for the District or Bank of America are believed.
Her testimony could shift a significant part of the blame away from Bank of America and back on the D.C. government, thereby depriving the District of much of the damages it claims.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg ordered Walters to give her testimony for a 12-hour videotaped deposition.
The testimony is supposed to run through the 20 years Walters is accused of using her management job in the Office of Tax and Revenue to write fraudulent real estate tax refund checks, then either cashing them or depositing them in her own or her co-conspirators’ bank accounts.
Bank of America discovered the scam in 2007 when an assistant branch manager was caught making unauthorized deposits and withdrawals. The bank employee was fired and subsequently jailed, which forced Walters to seek out other financial institutions.
Her niece, Jayrece Turnbull, later tried to deposit a $410,000 tax refund check at SunTrust, where suspicious managers turned over their evidence to the FBI. Turnbull was sentenced to nine years in prison.
The D.C. government filed a lawsuit against Bank of America in October 2008 accusing the bank of failing to prevent the fraud and of violating its agreement with the District. The D.C. government sought $117 million in damages.
So far, the lawsuit has gone badly for the District.
In January, Judge Weisberg, dismissed six of the 11 counts against Bank of America and left only three fully intact. He called the District’s claim for punitive damages unlikely.