Man Guilty of Fraud Told to Pay $10,000 to Ex-Wife, 81

Times Staff Writer

A Hollywood man was ordered Friday to pay $10,000 in restitution to an 81-year-old Tujunga woman whom authorities said he married so he could take her money and property.

Melvin Steiner, 51, pleaded guilty in December to misdemeanor charges of grand theft and real estate fraud.

Steiner began working as a gardener for Frances Hirsch in June, married her in September and persuaded her to go with him to Guadalajara, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Daniel M. Greller.

Steiner also persuaded Hirsch to make him a joint owner of her house, but her relatives became suspicious and hired an attorney, who had the marriage annulled, Greller said.


In November, after the annulment and after his name had legally been removed from the deed to Hirsch’s house, Steiner accepted an offer of $147,000 in a fraudulent sale of the house, Greller said.

“There’s no question that this marriage was a sham,” Greller said. “His intent all along was to defraud her.”

Hirsch’s family managed to stop the illegal sale of her house and notified Los Angeles police, who arrested Steiner on Nov. 12.

Steiner originally was charged with felony counts of making false statements to a notary public--the real estate agent--and of unlawfully agreeing to sell Hirsch’s house.


After Steiner pleaded guilty to the reduced misdemeanor charges, San Fernando Municipal Judge Gregg Marcus sentenced him to three years probation. He was also sentenced to 100 hours of community service, a $500 fine and 31 days already served in jail.

On Friday, Marcus ordered Steiner to pay $10,000 in restitution to Hirsch at a rate of $277 a month for three years.

Although Hirsch did not lose her house, the $10,000 is to cover money she lost after Steiner used her bank funds to buy furniture, a new van and an older model pickup truck, according to a document filed by Hirsch’s attorney, Herbert R. Seiden.

The vehicles were resold but at far less than what Steiner paid for them, according to the document. The restitution will also cover Hirsch’s legal costs, the document said.