'Trusted' Pierce County Housing Authority finance director accused of stealing millions

TACOMA, Wash. -- A "trusted" long-time former finance director for the Pierce County Housing Authority is accused in a civil lawsuit of stealing more than $4 million in public funds.

A lawsuit filed by the housing authority claims that finance director Cova Campbell and her husband Mark started diverting public money into private accounts three years ago. According to court documents, the couple spent $1.96 million of the stolen funds on 310 acres of real estate in Oklahoma, where Mark Campbell lives. The rest of the money is unaccounted for, the lawsuit states.

They're also accused of taking several steps to hide the theft, including,  among others, falsifying accounts and account numbers, falsifying invoices, and routing PCHA funds to private accounts.

State auditors discovered the missing money in July. Cova Campbell was fired Aug. 8 after failing to show up for questioning at the housing authority.

Now, the housing authority is suing the couple in an attempt to recoup their losses.

The audit is ongoing, but it's unclear if the Campbells are under criminal investigation. Neither has been charged with a crime, and the FBI declined to comment when asked by The Tacoma News-Tribune.

The Pierce County Housing Authority is tasked with providing affordable housing for roughly 4,000 low-income Pierce County residents every year. According to court documents, the agency has a $32 million annual budget.