Team 10 finds disbarred attorney seeking egg donation clients

Former attorney also seeks women for surrogacy

SAN DIEGO - Team 10 found that a disbarred attorney and convicted felon is now seeking egg donation clients and women to sign contracts as surrogates.

Viewers contacted Team 10 when Steven Liss's website, Surrogacy Solutions International, didn't seem right to them.

Liss had an office in Pacific Beach when Team 10 started this investigation several months ago. The office has since closed.

The website is geared towards women who want to have a baby or are willing to donate eggs.

On the site, Liss claims he has "20 years of experience in surrogacy law." 

However, as of Sept. 24, 2010, Liss cannot practice law in California by order of the state Supreme Court, because he's been disbarred. According to the state bar, Liss was allowed to continue to practice law after his third discipline, but he "amply demonstrated that he was not worthy of that trust."

Liss pleaded guilty to fraud in 2011, in a case where he rented out property he did not own.

Dirk Holland is a software designer who created the Surrogacy Solutions website for Liss.

Holland said Liss told him he was a surrogacy exper and promised to pay him up to $2,000 for his work on the site.

Holland questioned some of the website's content, and said Liss never paid him. When Holland wanted to pull the site down, he said Liss threatened to sue him.

Leahanna Trejo told Team 10 that Liss hired her to organize his Pacific Beach office and throw out records, including his old legal files. She said during her three days on the job, she found a note in the records from a previous employee.  

Trejo said the note read, "'Please just pay me the money you owe me,' like $220, a real small amount of money."

When she quit, Trejo said Liss wouldn't pay her, and claims he told her that he was broke.

She took him to small claims court. But Liss didn't show up, and the case was continued.

That's when Trejo said she dropped the case, because she had a new job and couldn't take time off.

Two Team 10 staff members went undercover to Liss's Pacific Beach office to see what he was offering to the public. 

"He told me for between $5,000 and $15,000, I can sell my eggs -- for $25,000, I can be a surrogate," one of the undercover Team 10 producers said Liss told her.

Liss did not tell Team 10 members about the risks involved in removing their eggs.

The California Health and Safety Code requires notification about the risks before a donor contract is signed.

When Team 10 went to his office to ask for an interview, Liss refused to talk about his business and slammed the door.

By law, neither Liss nor any other similar business needs a license or any training for surrogacy services.

A surrogate is a woman hired to carry someone else's baby to term.

For egg donors, there can be rare and serious side effects, which include an enlargement of the ovaries and significant fluid retention. Other risks include needle puncture of the bladder, bowel or blood vessels. Less serious side effects include bloating, abdominal pain and swelling, breast tenderness and moodiness.

Team 10 was not able to find another office location for Liss.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Timeline on Steve Liss' Legal Troubles

 

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