Sports agent sued for back rent at office

A court commissioner recently authorized a bench warrant for the Newport Beach sports agent who partially inspired the film "Jerry Maguire," but there are no plans to arrest him, court and law enforcement officials said Thursday.

Leigh Steinberg, 62, failed to appear in Orange County Superior Court on Dec. 15 for a debtor's examination, triggering the commissioner to OK the bench warrant on the condition that the party suing him pay the court fees, according to court spokeswoman Carole Levitzsky. Bench warrants typically lead to arrests when the subject is picked up for another crime, such as a traffic violation.

The Newport Beach-based Irvine Co., which filed a lawsuit alleging that Steinberg owes $1.4 million in back rent for office space in Newport Beach, did not pay the warrant fee, Levitzsky explained.

That means there is no warrant out for Steinberg's arrest, Levitsky said, to which Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino confirmed.

The warrant would become active, however, if the Irvine Co. pays the court fees.

Irvine Co. spokeswoman Erin Freeman declined to comment on the case.

Steinberg, in an interview with the Daily Pilot, said he failed to attend the court hearing based on advice from his attorney. He said he wants to set a new court date with counsel for his landlord.

"The truth is that I'm attempting to work out my financial situation with the Irvine Co.," he said, adding that many people can relate to his financial strains during tough economic times.

Steinberg, who writes a weekly sports column for the Pilot, called the media attention about the matter a mix-up that started with an inaccurate blog report that falsely suggested he was on the lam.

"[This] creates the impression that I'm hiding," Steinberg said. "I live transparently and publicly."

Steinberg entered a contract with the Irvine Co. in 2003, agreeing to pay $14,308 per month in rent for his 5,110-square-foot Newport Center office; he later renewed the contract in 2008, according to court records reviewed by the Pilot.

Steinberg has represented Oscar De La Hoya, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Steve Bartkowski and other top-tier athletic talents.

Twitter: @lawilliams30

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