A disbarred attorney charged with stealing nearly $2 million from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and more than $1 million from other clients was convicted Tuesday of grand theft and will be sentenced to a decade in prison.
James Vincent Reiss, once a prominent lawyer for the MTA who defended the agency in multimillion-dollar lawsuits, pleaded no contest to two felony counts of grand theft.
Reiss, 52, made the plea as part of a deal in which prosecutors agreed to drop nine other felony counts of theft, forgery and fraud. He is expected to be sentenced to 10 years in prison at a March 26 court hearing.
For more than a decade, Reiss worked as a hired legal gun who handled lawsuits involving the transit systems' bus and train passengers until MTA officials discovered he was creating phony invoices, Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for prosecutors, said.
As part of the scheme, Reiss created fraudulent documents that led the MTA to cut him a check rather than provide a payout directly to the plaintiffs who sued the agency.
In addition to the MTA, Reiss also took advantage of other clients, prosecutors said.
In one case, he settled it without the client's knowledge, forged signatures on paperwork and took the money, prosecutors said. In another case involving a trust, he opened a bank account, deposited a client's money and wrote checks to himself, prosecutors said.
Reiss was disbarred last year by the state bar.
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