.
News Alert
Former L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon:…

Lawyer who Bilked Clients – Including MTA – out of $3 Mil Gets 10 Years

"Your decisions, your actions have brought you from the attorney's chair at the counsel's table in a courtroom to a criminal defendant's chair for sentencing today," the judge told James Vincent Reiss.

James Vincent Reiss received a sentence of 10 years for bilking his legal clients out of $3 million. Patch file photo.
James Vincent Reiss received a sentence of 10 years for bilking his legal clients out of $3 million. Patch file photo.

A disbarred attorney who stole money from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and another client was sentenced today to 10 years in state prison and ordered to pay nearly $3 million in restitution.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge C. H. Rehm imposed the term on James Vincent Reiss, 52, who pleaded no contest March 11 to two counts of grand theft of personal property.

Reiss was ordered to pay more than $2.4 million to the MTA, and more than $511,000 to another client.

He has already paid more than $200,000 in restitution to a third client, Deputy District Attorney Amy Pellman Pentz said.

Reiss was under contract with the MTA to handle its general liability claims, and received fraudulent reimbursements from the MTA between 2010 and 2011, according to the District Attorney's Office.

The judge noted that Reiss had been a successful attorney with no prior criminal convictions, but said Reiss' decisions had changed him from an attorney to a criminal defendant.

"Make it the last time," the judge told Reiss.

Rehm encouraged Reiss to take responsibility for his actions.

"Your decisions, your actions have brought you from the attorney's chair at the counsel's table in a courtroom to a criminal defendant's chair for sentencing today," the judge said. "... Your seat there should indeed be painful. Hopefully you will remember the pain and not repeat your bad decisions."

Reiss was disbarred last March after a State Bar Court found that he had committed 10 acts of misconduct involving five client matters between 2000 and 2010.

He has been jailed since his arrest last June.

--City News Service


Scott Zwartz March 27, 2014 at 09:25 AM
Reiss was merely following the rules of professional conduct which allow an attorney to sell his client's secrets to the highest bidder. There was a time when attorneys owed a duty of loyalty to their clients and had to keep all confidential information secret and never enter into any business arrangement which harmed their clients. Those quaint old days are no more. An attorney may now tell his client that he wants more money and if his client wants to stick with the written attorney fee contract, the atty is free to go out and sell the confidential information which he learned from his client to the highest bidder. In this case, Attorney Reiss seemed a little eager and did not bother to find a second client who would then make bogus claims against Reiss's original client in order to extort his original client to pay him more. Perhaps, such extortion works only against the little guy and not against a powerful agency. If you're a small fry with an important case, don't be surprised if you atty turns to you near the end of the case and extorts additional fees from you. If you don't pay up, then your confidential information may very soon become quite public. In one recent case, the judge refused to allow the extorted client to fire his attorney and forced the client to sit there while the attorney raked in tens of thousands of unearned fees. How does one protect oneself? One can't, as long as attorneys owe no duty of loyalty to their clients.
Donkey Howdy March 27, 2014 at 10:26 AM
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/lawyers-lawfirms/attorney-client-privilege.html
Jock March 27, 2014 at 10:30 AM
Most of the politicians in office are attorneys. Does that shine any lights folks ? I normally don't quote the Bible but Matthew and Luke writng about the words of Jesus... Matthew 23:23 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former..... Luke 11:52 "Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering."

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »