Former SeaTac Mayor Siefkes disbarred in WA; can’t practice law anywhere in U.S.


By Jack Mayne

Former SeaTac Mayor Michael Siefkes can never again practice law in Washington state, or seek a law license in any other state in the nation following his resignation from the Washington State Bar Association that he chose instead of seeking a hearing before the Review Committee of the Washington Supreme Court.

Shortly before he suddenly resigned as mayor and announced he and his family were moving to Fairview – a suburb of Nashville, Tenn. – he signed a statement agreeing to be disbarred.

His mayoral and council resignation came as a big surprise to other members of the SeaTac City Council.

Disciplinary Board
His resignation as mayor and SeaTac Councilmember, followed by his resignation from the Washington Bar Association “in lieu of discipline” was effective Sept. 2, 2018.

Siefkes had testified before a disciplinary board counsel of the Washington Supreme Court in May 2018 and a decision was issued on Sept. 20 (download PDF of court documents here).

He had for some years represented a mother, who has since died, and her son. The now-deceased mother “suffered from dementia,” the disciplinary board said, and her son “suffers from an autistic disorder … and social phobia.” The SeaTac Blog is not naming the mother nor her son, both once represented by then-lawyer Siefkes, because of their diagnosed difficulties.

The son was the one who filed a complaint with the state about the ineffective legal representation of Siefkes.

Siefkes was interviewed by the Supreme Court disciplinary counsel last May and when asked about the son’s “cognitive or social abilities,” the former mayor “invoked his 5th Amendment rights.” Then Siefkes was asked if he “ever took out a loan from a client” and the “respondent testified he had ever taken out a loan from a client.”

Testimony untrue
The disciplinary counsel said “respondent’s testimony was not true,” because Siefkes took out a loan in September 2009 (from the couple) for $3,600. “The loan was memorialized in a promissory note prepared by the respondent (Siefkes) and when he was asked about it he claimed he did not remember taking out the loan. Respondent’s testimony does not appear credible,” court documents said.

Siefkes, said the disciplinary counsel, noted that the client bought three new vehicles for Siefkes, a new Toyota Tundra, valued at $40,000, a new vehicle from Acura of Bellevue for $31,000, and a third vehicle for $26.600.

“Respondent (Siefkes) said ‘all the funds he received from (the son) were for services rendered and that he was never given gifts other than token Christmas and birthday presents.”

“Respondent’s testimony does not appear credible,” the disciplinary counsel wrote in the report.

Also, “contrary to deposition testimony, respondent told a police detective and a forensic accountant” that the vehicles were gifts, but the disciplinary counsel said “respondent did not perform $297,313.50 worth of work for (the mother and son) … at the very most, respondent (Siefkes) actually provided $206,575 in legal and other services ….”

By taking the $297,313.50 rather than a $206,575 fee, Siefkes violated the law. He also violated several rules of professional conduct.

The disciplinary hearing in May was followed by his quitting as a lawyer.

“The lawyer (Siefkes) agrees that he is aware of the alleged misconduct in disciplinary counsel’s Statement of Alleged Misconduct and rather than defend against the allegations, he wishes to permanently resign from membership in the Association,” wrote Kathy Jo Blake, who acted as disciplinary counsel.

Be a lawyer elsewhere?
Siefkes acknowledges that he cannot ask his new home state, Tennessee, to become a member of the bar there and practice law.

Or any other state.

“I understand that my resignation is permanent and that any future application by me for reinstatement as a member of the (Washington state) association is currently barred.” Siefkes says he agrees to “notify all other states and jurisdictions” of the resignation. He also agreed to “disclose the resignation in lieu of discipline in response to any question regarding disciplinary action on the status of my license to practice law.”

“I agree to be subject of all restrictions that apply to a disbarred lawyer.” It is generally acknowleged that other states will not give Siefkes a license to practice law.


Comments

6 Responses to “Former SeaTac Mayor Siefkes disbarred in WA; can’t practice law anywhere in U.S.”
  1. Chuck Darielli says:

    All i’ve got is WOW!

  2. Kathie Brave says:

    I third the WOW. I was absolutely shocked when I saw this. He was a great mayor for our little city. I really liked him and his wife and the kids I met. I guess you just never know what’s going on in someone’s life.

  3. Earl Gipson says:

    I see no restitution to the victims in the document/s. Mr. Siefke’s house is for sale. See https://www.redfin.com/WA/SeaTac/16626-51st-Ave-S-98188/home/194857

    I also do not see any pending litigation on the WA Court site.

    Since apparently he left with the vehicle/s, perhaps a real attorney can attach his assets (lien, etc). Mr. Siefkes had everyone fooled about his true nature so there are probably more victims.

    It is not the first time one of our politicians has lied to me/us but it sure feels more personal this time. Just makes me sick.

    Someone asked me to write a farewell column praising his work but a blowup in a committee meeting with one of his clients (a couple of years ago) and another Councilmember’s suspicions made me hesitate. Thank you Councilmember Fernald. I’m sorry I didn’t take you seriously.

  4. Ou812 bob says:

    Wow no jail time!
    Must be nice