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