Franklin County Public Works employee let out of jail; no charge - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Franklin County Public Works employee let out of jail; no charges

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PASCO, Wash. -- Franklin County Public Works accountant, Dennis Huston has been let out of the  jail. He is accused of stealing up to a million dollars in taxpayer money, but the State Attorney General's Office didn't file charges before a 72-hour hold that expired Tuesday afternoon. KNDU was the only media outlet with a camera on the scene as Huston left the jail.  He did not want to talk to media.

The Franklin County Prosecutor, Shawn Sant sent a news release to media outlet saying the State Attorney General's Office is handling the criminal prosecution of the case, and T they are not prepared to file charges because of the amount of evidence that needs to be reviewed.

"Flight is always a concern in these situations. But the overall concern is careful consideration of the evidence so that if a case,the strongest possible case can be made," says Dan Sytman, the spokesperson for the Washington State Attorney General's office.

Sytman says he's not sure when they will be ready to file charges, and at this point Huston is likely looking at theft in the first degree, money laundering and possession of cocaine charges.

Houston was sentenced to four years in prison in 1986 for stealing government money in Montana. He blamed the theft on a drug problem then.

He started working for Franklin county in 1989.  Commissioner Brad Peck says in today's day and age, most city and county employees go through extensive background checks before they even start working.  This  usually organized by the human resources department.

Peck says Franklin County didn't get an HR department until February 2002.  He says he is not sure about the procedures that were in place for hiring back in1989.

NBC Right now spoke with two out of three commissioners who served in 1989, Ken Miller and Neva Corkrum.  Both said each department was responsible for hiring their own people back then, it was not up to the commissioners.

They also told me the only county employees subject to background checks were members of law enforcement and those who worked with children.

Peck says, doing background checks for all employees hired before 2002 is not something Franklin County has discussed yet.

Read the entire news release here: http://ftpcontent.worldnow.com/kndu/akamai/images/News/Huston.pdf

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