Though he's pleaded not guilty to embezzling more than $1 million from City Hall, former water engineer Joe Phan is attempting to work a plea deal with the city and prosecutors by already agreeing to pay back what he allegedly stole under his bosses' noses. The millionaire utilities worker has now signed legal papers to turn over various assets including a car, jewelry and his life insurance and retirement funds to the city and to sell five of his six properties valued at more than $1 million.
Most of the diverted checks were deposited from January 2008 through November 2010, when Phan - who was making $81,000 a year - was putting, on average, $360,000 a year into his Bank of America account. It is the largest known embezzlement ever at City Hall.
Phan has pleaded not guilty to 67 counts of first-degree theft and three counts of second-degree theft and is currently free on work-release cleaning the inside of marine tanks on ships. He and his wife and two children are living on roughly $1,000 a week as part of an earlier court agreement.
In the newest development, Phan last week signed a court agreement allowing the city to oversee the sales of five of his properties, consisting of two homes and three plots of land. As trustee of the properties, the city will presumably end up with the net benefits of the sales.
Phan has only minimal equity in the sixth property, a rental home on Beacon Hill, so that will not be sold for now. But Phan and his wife and two children must move into that home so their their more expensive private residence on the hill can be sold, along with another rental home.
It is not yet clear how much the sales could raise towards paying off Phan's alleged embezzlement tab, though the six properties are assessed at roughly $1.1 million in value.
He has also agreed to turn over all funds from his city retirement savings along with proceeds from a life insurance policy, as well as a 2004 Honda Element and jewelry he apparently bought during the period he was allegedly stealing city funds. The value of the funds and assets are not listed in court papers (below).
No date has been set for a criminal trial, should there be one. Phan faces up to ten years in prison.