Dennis Huston sentenced to 16 years

<p>Dennis Huston</p>

Dennis Huston

The former Franklin County administrator who orchestrated Washington state's largest and longest embezzlement of public funds is sentenced to 16 years in prison today.

Dennis Huston sat quietly in his chair, barely moving as the judge read the sentence this afternoon.

Before the judge handed down the 16 year sentence, Huston spoke to the court for about 20 seconds.

He said he let down his friends, family and co-workers, and said he is "very, very sorry".

Two months ago, Huston pleaded guilty to first degree aggravated theft, aggravated money laundering and possession of cocaine.

He admitted to stealing money from the county for 22 years, between 1990 and 2012 under the guise of a fake company.

Investigators say Huston used the money to fuel a cocaine addiction.

They believe Huston stole at least $2.8 million dollars.

"This is something that you don't really recover from. This is a tremendous amount of money for one of the poorest counties in the state. I'm glad it's over with for the people of Franklin County. I hope they can begin to heal and move forward. It's a difficult process, this is the first step I hope" said Scott Marlow, Assistant Attorney General for Washington state.

Huston's attorney asked the judge to let Huston go free for another two weeks, so he could say his goodbyes before he reported to prison.

But the judge denied the request.

The judge said Huston has violated the trust of every person in the county.

Right after the hearing, Huston was handcuffed and taken out of the courtroom.

Before the sentence was handed down, Huston's pastor spoke to the court.

He said Huston is a helpful person who has mentored young children, and cares for his family.

The Franklin County auditor Matt Beaton, also spoke during the hearing.

He said this was a brazen, manipulative and well-crafted crime.

Huston's attorney asked for a sentence of five years in prison.

The judge could have given Huston a sentence as high as 25 years.

The county auditor's office discovered the fraud in January 2012 while reviewing paperwork.

Huston was arrested a couple days later.