Legal Ethics

Now-Disbarred Attorney: 'I Knew I Was Creating My Own Disaster'


Earlier this year, the future looked bright for Mary Ann Giebink. In addition to a Sioux Falls law practice, the South Dakota lawyer was a Democratic candidate for the state legislature.

Then she fell off the wagon. On May 7, the recovering alcoholic had a relapse and led Minnehaha County sheriff’s officers on a high-speed, booze-fueled chase, according to the Argus Leader and KELO.

But that wasn’t all. Within a month or so prior to her arrest, Giebink misappropriated $24,000 from the law firm’s trust account, authorities say. She allegedly wrote checks two checks totaling $2,000 in April to two bars, once of which also operates a casino.

Since then, Giebink has done her best to make things right. She quickly withdrew from the legislative race, closed her law practice and was voluntarily disbarred in South Dakota. Yesterday she pleaded guilty to drunken driving and eluding charges from the May incident, as as well offering an open guilty plea to a new charge of grand theft by embezzlement of property received in trust that was filed earlier the same day, the articles say. This permits the judge in her case potentially to impose the maximum 12-year penalty when she is later sentenced.

Giebink, who is 50, told the judge yesterday that she had repaid some of the money taken from the trust account and promised to make full restitution. Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan described the situation as an ongoing cooperative effort.

She also admitted to police when they interviewed her about the missing money that she had made a serious mistake, reports KELO. According to court documents, she stated: “I admit that I have committed a felony, grand theft. I knew I was creating my own disaster.”

As a result of her cooperation, charges of marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession were dropped.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Lawyer Who Stole $650 to Spend on Drugs Shouldn’t Be Disbarred, Dissent Says”

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