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We’re here at the District’s federal courthouse this morning to report on the sentencing of Harriette Walters, the central figure in the $50 million tax scam that spanned nearly two decades. Walters appeared in court wearing a blue smock, her hair short and braided. She sat behind her attorney, Steve Tabackman, who argued that his client’s sentence should be on the lower end of the 15- to 18-year range laid out in the scammer’s plea agreement. In a statement to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, Tabackman cited Walters’ cooperation in a D.C. Council probe of the wrongdoing as the basis for his leniency request.

Speaking for herself, Walters said, “I stand before your honor in full repentance. I never blamed anyone for my part in what I did.” She went on to detail the cooperation she’d given to authorities investigating the scam and insisted that without her assistance, the scam could have been perpetrated all over again.

Once Walters finished up, Sullivan said, “It’s a shame you couldn’t have used your talent and your brilliance to help the D.C. government.”

At that, the hearing recessed. After the break, the prosecution will make its case as to why Walters should serve the max. We’ll have another report later.