Eviction lawyer booked into jail weeks after his disbarment

Brian Read, 45, of Freeland, pleaded guilty Monday to vehicular assault while under the influence.

A lawyer who was disbarred last month for financial misconduct was sentenced to three months in the Snohomish County Jail this week for causing a five-car crash while intoxicated in 2019.

On the evening of Nov. 3, 2019, Freeland resident Brian Read was driving a Chevrolet Suburban north on I-5. His SUV began to fishtail near the 164th Street exit in Lynnwood, witnesses reported. The five-lane freeway is straight and flat near that exit.

Read, 45, a former landlord-tenant attorney, veered his Chevy into the carpool lane. The lawyer’s SUV crossed the shoulder and crashed into a guardrail, leaving a 6-foot bend in the rail, according to charging documents filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Four other cars crashed as a result, according to court records.

One witness reported she was driving her Volkswagen Beetle in the interstate’s far right lane when she saw the Chevy erratically crossing traffic lanes in the direction of the guardrail. Read’s SUV rammed into the driver’s side of her Beetle, and her car rolled off the freeway and down a grassy embankment. She suffered minor injuries.

Another witness was driving her Jeep Cherokee in the middle lane when she saw the Chevy lose control. She steered to the right to avoid colliding with the SUV. This caused the Jeep to rear-end another vehicle. She suffered a broken right leg.

A Washington State Patrol trooper arrived to find Read standing next to the Chevy. Read reportedly told the trooper he lost control of the vehicle and was “not sure if he had caused the series of collisions,” according to court records.

The trooper smelled alcohol on Read’s breath and noticed his eyes were bloodshot and watery. Read agreed to field sobriety tests and struggled with the walk-and-turn test, according to charging papers.

Read was arrested and transported to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, where a sample of his blood was collected more than two hours after the crash. His blood-alcohol content at that time was 0.11 — above the legal limit of 0.08.

Read was not required to post bond, on a promise to show up to court hearings. He continued to practice law for the next two years, specializing in providing counsel to landlords in eviction lawsuits throughout Snohomish County.

In March, Snohomish County prosecutors charged Read with vehicular assault while under the influence. Read continued to practice law for almost three months after that.

He worked as an attorney in Washington for nearly 20 years. In 2020, he was outspoken about his opposition to the statewide eviction moratorium. He talked to reporters from KING 5 and made posts on his law firm’s Facebook page.

Read was disbarred last month for taking thousands of dollars out of a client trust account to pay his mortgage, and for showing indifference in repaying the money, among other financial misconduct.

The ex-lawyer pleaded guilty to the felony charges. He was represented by a public defender, Robert O’Neal.

Under state guidelines, Read faced a range of three to nine months behind bars. Superior Court Judge Cassandra Lopez-Shaw handed down a three-month jail sentence, in line with the recommendation of prosecutors.

The ex-lawyer must complete one year of probation after his release from jail. During that time, he must refrain from drinking alcohol and undergo an evaluation for substance use disorder.