La Jolla Lawyer In Court To Face His Own Felony Charges

Steven R. Liss is accused of stealing from his bank

Disgraced attorney Steven R. Liss is more fortunate than his clients. Liss’ attorney actually showed up in court to represent him during his felony arraignment Tuesday in San Diego Superior Court. That's more than Liss did say clients who hired Liss to help them.

“I’m glad he has proper representation,” says former Liss client Anne Munda-Vuozzo, “it’s something I didn’t have.”

She was the first of a dozen clients to contact the 10 News I-Team, accusing Liss of taking their money then not working on their cases. She believes Liss stole $75 hundred dollars from her when he failed to return her retainer even though she fired him within two weeks of hiring him.

Now Mr. Liss is accused of stealing from a bank. The criminal complaint spells out the three felony charges against Liss, including passing a bad check, grand theft of personal property, and burglary.

Deputy District Attorney Bruce Silva explains, “All of the charges stem from the same incident.”

In a court filing, San Diego Police say Liss deposited a $16, 066.79 check into his account at WAMU bank in La Jolla on June 12, 2008. It was a check drawn on another Liss account at Wachovia Securities.

The problem is that the $16,066.79 check was no good. Liss had closed the Wachovia account nine months before. He’s facing criminal charges because he has withdrawn $12 thousand dollars before WAMU found out the check was bad.

A WAMU representative says Liss was called a dozen times, but never corrected the problem. Liss’ attorney says it’s a misunderstanding that will be straightened out soon.

Liss’ next court date is April 2nd. If convicted on all 3 felony counts he could face 3 years behind bars and a $10 thousand dollar fine.

At the end of April, Mr. Liss is also facing a trial in the California State Bar Court, which disciplines attorneys.

Based on complaints from clients including Munda-Vuozzo, Mr. Liss must defend himself against a new list of allegations including acts involving moral turpitude, dishonesty or corruption, illegal fees, and failing to properly handle clients’ money. He is also charged with practicing without a legal license. At one point, he allowed his membership in the Bar to lapse by not paying the fees. He faces the last allegation because he’s accused of taking on new clients while his license clearly stated that he was not able to practice law in California.

He has since paid the fees. He is already on probation with the State Bar for past multiple acts of wrongdoing.