Millionaire Joe Phan, Alleged City Embezzler, Agrees to Sell Homes, Live on $1,000 a Week

Having allegedly stole more than a million dollars from the government, ex-city employee Joe Phan is now living as the government's guest. Of course, it's three hots and a cot in King County Jail, current residence of the man accused of the biggest embezzlement in modern Seattle City Hall history. But should he eventually make bail, Phan and his family will live on $1,000 a week the government is allowing them to spend even though some of those assets could be proceeds of Phan's alleged crime.

However, as part of a temporary agreement with the city, Phan has agreed to deed to the city, in trust, five of the six properties he owns - two rental homes and three vacant lots valued at roughly $800,000. He has also agreed to sell them "on the open market as soon as possible," according to court papers. (The Phans do not have to sell their family residence on Beacon Hill, however).

The agreement doesn't specify what happens to the sale proceeds, but the city has said that - having already obtained about $220,000 from Phan's bank account allegedly used in the crime - it is still seeking about $800,000 in restitution.

It's a complicated, fluid situation since Phan - though he allegedly has confessed - has pleaded not guilty and been convicted of nothing. He's charged with stealing 70 city checks worth more than $1 million from his employer, the Seattle Public Utilities department, and faces ten years in prison.

The city is so far unable to prove which if any of the assets may be the result of Phan's ill-gotten gains from his alleged five-year embezzlement. But to safeguard them for possible future appropriation, City attorney Pete Holmes has frozen the assets under court order, putting him in charge of the Phan's finances.

He is allowing a one-time $25,000 payment to be made for Phan's legal defense by the James Bible Law Group. The city has agreed to allow Phan to withdraw $41,000 from a deferred compensation plan he has to pay for that retainer and make mortgage payments.

Holmes has also worked out an allowance to which Phan and his wife have at least temporarily agreed. It seems adequate enough for a family of four, but is not the sort of allowance you might expect of someone who, on paper at least, is a millionaire

Altogether, the Phans can withdraw $4,360 a month from their family bank account. About $2,2000 is for the mortgage payment on their Beacon Hill home. (Mortgages on the two rental homes are paid by the monthly rental income from Seattle Housing Authority).

Holmes is also allowing the Phans to buy $757 worth of food and groceries a month, a figure based on standards established by the federal government. They'll be allowed to pay $200 for their car insurance and $150 for health insurance - through the Group Health co-op (the low cost of the coverage is not explained).

About $280 will go to "apparel and services" and $150 to internet and cell phone service.

Most of the remaining expenses are for utilities - some of which come with an ironic twist.

Phan's alleged scheme was discovered after he had reputedly stolen a million dollars from SPU, then tripped himself up by trying to falsify a comparably measly $100 in utility payments.

Now, sitting in jail, the accused embezzler is effectively under court order to pay his garbage bill each month.

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