Bothell, WA

Ex-Lawyer Impersonates Client for $150K

Timothy A Gruver

The ex-lawyer was charged with three counts of identity theft in August

A Bothell man is wanted by the Washington Insurance Commissioner's Office for failing to appear in court for impersonating one of his clients during his former life as a lawyer.

Clinton Jonathan "Sonny" Behrends was charged with two counts of 1st-degree identity theft and one count of 1st-degree theft by the King County Prosecutor's Office, according to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC). A bench warrant for his arrest was issued on Thursday, Aug. 24, the OIC reports further.

He failed to make his arraignment earlier this month and has since been added to the OIC's Most Wanted List, according to the insurance commissioner.

An investigation into Behrends was launched after one of his former clients made a call to the OIC on July 2, 2021, OIC officials reported.

The client claimed he was injured in a serious collision in 2017 and hired Behrends to represent him. By 2019, the client continued, he learned on his own that his insurer, USAA, had settled his claim for $150,000. Behrends offered to pay him only $7,000 back which his client firmly rejected, according to the OIC's investigation.

Amid their negotiations, the OIC reports, Behrends ultimately agreed to pay his client $100,000 while Behrends would keep the remaining $50,000 for his legal services. Behrends allegedly paid his client just $6,000 in the end, the OIC reports.

Based on the OIC's investigation, Behrends allegedly forged his client's signature to pocket the lion's share of his client's money as early as July 2018 before transferring the money to his own bank account.

Since then, the OIC reports, Behrends surrendered his license to practice law to the Washington Bar Association in lieu of being disbarred.

Anyone with information that may lead to Behrends's arrest is encouraged by the OIC to contact the office's Criminal Investigations Unit.

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Timothy Gruver is a writer and reporter with experience in writing for mass media.

Olympia, WA

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