The city of Seattle has started civil litigation against Joseph Phan, the former Seattle Public Utilities project engineer charged in what authorities say is the largest embezzlement of public funds in recent King County history.
King County prosecutors have charged Phan, 44, with 70 counts of theft for allegedly stealing $1.1 million from the city. On Friday, the Seattle City Attorney’s Office jumped into the fray by filing a civil claim against Phan, accusing him of “civil fraud, conversion of City funds, breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment,” according to a news release sent out by Kimberly Mills, spokeswoman for City Attorney Pete Holmes.
The city, in its filing, has asked a King County Superior Court judge “to freeze all assets of the former Seattle Public Utilities engineer,” Mills wrote.
“Our goal is full financial recovery for ratepayers through swift and aggressive civil remedies,” Holmes said in the statement. “The county prosecutor will address the criminal consequences of Mr. Phan’s conduct.”
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Phan remains in the King County Jail on $750,000 bail. He is slated to be arraigned on March 19.