You may remember Dave Hick. He's the veteran King County deputy sheriff who lost his gun, then his job. An Issaquah judge issued a permanent restraining order against him in June, ordering the deputy to keep his distance from the married woman with whom he'd been having a year-long affair and prohibiting him from possessing firearms. Legally disarmed, Hick was kicked off the force.
If it sounds like a strange story, that's not the half of it. Recent news reports focused on Hick, making little mention of his ex-lover, Margita Dornay Noe. But she turns out to be a small town prosecutor with a bizarre story of her own.
The case is the suburban flip side to the Seattle scandal of a public defender who had sex with a jail inmate and faces bar disciplinary action (see Snapshot); in this case, a prosecutor could face similar charges related to her affair with a law officer.
Noe, 34, met Hick, 33, in March 2001 when she served as a Kenmore prosecutor. She's a partner in Kenyon Dornay Marshall, where her husband also works as a prosecutor (they have four children). The firm has more than a dozen attorneys who provide general legal, litigation, and prosecutorial services to 30 small towns, such as Burien, North Bend, and Hunt's Point. Typically, the firm's clients are municipalities that lack full-time city attorneys to prosecute misdemeanor and traffic cases.
The firm's prosecutors shift from court to court. Noe, for example, is Kirkland's current prosecutor. But she was in Kenmore when Hick, a sheriff's deputy for 10 years, would show up with his cases for Noe to prosecute. They hit it off.
He "began to confide in me the problems he was having with his divorce," Noe says in a sworn statement. "I began to confide in him the marital problems that I was having with my husband." They began an affair.
Later, she says, "Mr. Hick slowly began to confide in me that he was closely involved with the Mafia. He claimed that he was a 'lieutenant' with a West Coast 'Family' and had served as a 'hitman' for many years.
"He bragged about homicides that he had committed in Louisiana and Oregon," she claims, saying he told her his victims were "sleeping with the fishes."
When she first began to hint at leaving the relationship last fall, she says, he would fly into rages and say he couldn't live without her, once putting a gun to his head. He threatened to cut the heads off her horses, gut her dog, and claimed he had already killed his estranged wife's cat and his own Rottweiler. Apparently inspired by the movie The Godfather, Hick allegedly "threatened to put the [decapitated] horses' heads in my bed and send the remaining body parts to my children's school, my firm, and to my church." He also threatened to kill Noe, her husband, and other members of her law firm, she says. She would "have to backpedal and tell him I loved him and [that] I would leave my husband eventually," Noe recalls.
Records show the affair had wilted in February, when, according to one phone call transcript, she was enraged at Hick's unexplained movements: "I love you and I know you love me, but this shit is gonna stop. I'm not going to constantly feel like a fucking failure here. . . ." She later told her husband of the affair, she says, maintaining that "I love my husband dearly and always have." In March of this year, she left for good, Noe says. She says Hick threatened and assaulted her after the breakup, which is why she pushed for the restraining order. She calls her former lover a "dangerous man . . . a sociopath."
Hick's portion of the case was essentially closed with the issuance of the restraining order and loss of his job. Now it's Noe who must answer to officials. At least two bar complaints have been filed against her, questioning her courtroom ethics and citing her perjury admission. She prosecuted some court cases in which Hick was involved without revealing the potential conflict. And during a divorce hearing between Hick and his estranged wife, Noe made false statements about a child custody incident. She later signed a sworn declaration admitting the perjury.
She lied, the prosecutor explained, because she felt threatened by Hick and a second man who Hick called "Uncle Joe," a man Noe believed was a Mafia don, she says.
Neither Noe nor her law firm partner Mike Kenyon responded to repeated telephone and e-mail requests for interviews.
Hick has denied Noe's claims. He calls his Mafia remarks "a joke" and says he never harmed her. His attorney Marjorie Goodale Tedrick says that for both parties the relationship was an "obsessive, almost childlike" affair.
The affair is detailed in sworn testimony and other public records, and has attracted an underground following. One attorney refers to the recording of the eight-hour June 5 restraining-order hearing as the court's "number-one-selling CD." According to testimony from that day, the lovers would sometimes make more than 35 daily phone or pager calls around the clock, and send each other notes (from Noe to Hick: "I love you, I adore you, and I . . . oh my god . . . I lust you.") Hick also gave Noe some lavish gifts, including a $5,500 horse.
Noe's law firm is reported to now be pushing for charges against Hick, although sheriff's spokesperson Sgt. Greg Dymerski says "to the best of my knowledge, the KCSO is not conducting a criminal investigation." Noe allows she made mistakes but ultimately blames Hick and his violent ways for spoiling the affair and ruining her life.
Hick's attorney Tedrick says there's blame to go around for the "unfortunate and sordid relationship," and that Noe has tried to hide her responsibilities in the case. "The public has a right to know how these public officials conduct themselves in their role as public servants," Tedrick said in arguing against Noe's efforts to prevent her case from becoming public. "There are no compelling reasons to seal this file other than the personal embarrassment to Ms. Dornay, which pales in comparison to the destruction of Mr. Hick's life and career."