Man who stole $1M from Seattle utility gets 7 1/2 years

SEATTLE — A former engineer for Seattle Public Utilities has been sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison for embezzling more than $1 million.

Joseph Phan was sentenced Friday.

He earlier pleaded guilty to 67 counts of first-degree theft for depositing checks made out to the utility into his personal account. Prosecutors said that he used the money to purchase houses, rental properties and undeveloped lots.

The Seattle Times reported the 47-year-old Phan sobbed and apologized during his sentencing hearing.

He was fired after a 2010 audit of the utility’s financial controls.

Prosecutors said Phan has made restitution for about half of what he stole. SPU chief Ray Hoffman told the court that the city’s insurance company made good on the other half so the city has been fully reimbursed financially.

The agency has changed procedures for invoicing and payments.

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Information from The Seattle Times is included in this report.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com

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