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Bench warrant issued for former lawyer accused of stealing client’s insurance settlement

September 21, 2023

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Bothell man has been added to Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Insurance Fraud Most Wanted list.

Clinton Jonathan ‘Sonny’ Behrends failed to appear at his arraignment after being charged by the King County Prosecutor’s Office with two counts of first-degree identity theft and one count of first-degree theft. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest on August 24.

On July 2, 2021, the Insurance Commissioner’s Criminal Investigations Unit received a phone call from one of Behrends’ former clients. The client stated that he was injured in a serious vehicle collision in 2017, after which he hired Clinton Behrends as legal representation.

In 2019, the client went online and learned that USAA had settled his claim in 2018 for $150,000. The client contacted Behrends about the settlement, and Behrends offered to pay him $7,000. 

The client said they had agreed to him receiving $100,000 with Behrends receiving $50,000 for representation, and Behrends’ later offer was unacceptable. Behrends paid the client $6,000 but absconded with $94,000. 

CIU opened an investigation and discovered Behrends had forged the client’s signature. Detectives obtained a search warrant for Behrends’ bank records and found he had received a check from USAA for $150,000 in July 2018. Behrends then transferred most of the money to his own personal account.

Behrends was investigated by the Washington State Bar Association and surrendered his license to practice law in lieu of being disbarred.

If you have information that may lead to the arrest of Clinton Jonathan Behrends, please contact your local law enforcement agency or contact Kreidler's Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU).

CIU investigates insurance fraud and works with allied law enforcement agencies and state and local prosecutors on criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums. Insurance companies are required by law to report fraud to the commissioner.  

If you suspect someone of committing insurance fraud, report it to Kreidler’s investigators.