Ex-Seattle utilities employee pleads guilty to $1.1 million theft

SEATTLE -- A former Seattle Public Utilities worker pleaded guilty Thursday to 67 counts of theft for embezzling nearly $1.1 million from SPU between 2008 and 2010, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Chau Phan diverted customer checks from water main extension projects into a private bank account and used the money for personal expenses, which included a down payment on the purchase of a rental home, to pay off credit card debt and also purchase a car, prosecutors said. He was fired from SPU in 2011.

Prosecutors called it the largest embezzlement of public funds in King County history and are asking a judge to impose an exceptional sentence of 7 1/2 years in prison when Phan is sentenced on Nov. 15.