Franklin County pursues every angle to recoup stole millions

PASCO -- The law continues closing in around the man accused of stealing millions from Franklin County.

Criminal charges were filed against Dennis Huston last Friday, and now the civil suit is moving forward as well. It's all in an effort to recoup as much money as possible.

Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant says "Our goal all the time has been locating the county's assets." But he knows it is no easy feat.

An entire team in the Prosecutor's office is now tasked with tracing exactly where the fraudulent funds may have gone.

Court records show Huston admits to a drug and gambling problem, so much of the money may be untraceable

If it's not, the county hopes to see if Huston used any for his family's personal expenses, or even stashed it away.

Chairman of Franklin County Commissioners Brad Peck says, "If those funds were used, for example, to buy a vehicle, or a home, or a boat, or an airplane, the county has a basis for going after those assets."

At the same time, Franklin County is also looking at an insurance claim.

"That's why we all pay insurance, including cities and counties," says Sant. "We do have coverage that covers a little bit of that. But it certainly won't be all of it."

Action News has learned at least one policy could pay an estimated half-million dollars. But the county is now considering making claims from past policies, considering the theft is believed to have taken place over the last 22 years.

It's believed Huston was taking $5,000-$10,000 a month. And now that the slow leak from county funds has been stopped, officials say they're finding themselves with more of a cushion.

It's now using the money for bonds for new software and replacing county vehicles.

But officials agree their biggest need right now is trying to recover as much taxpayer money as possible.

"We have to pursue a recovery," says Sant, "even if it's not anywhere near the amount that was taken. But if we can identify anything, in this day and age, with our budget, every dollar counts."

Huston is scheduled to appear in criminal court on June 12th.

There is no civil hearing scheduled yet. I'm told that investigation could still take many more months.