Originally posted on SPORTS by BROOKS  |  Last updated 12/21/11

Last week an Orange County (CA) court bench warrant was issued for the arrest of the man who helped to inspire the movie, “Jerry Maguire.”


The Dec. 15, 2011, warrant followed a Dec. 13, 2010, Orange County court order that former NFL agent Leigh Steinberg pay The Irvine Company $1,440,038.12 in back rent for office space Steinberg leased beginning in 2003. A lawyer for The Irvine Company, Brooke Brandt, noted the following in court documents filed on Dec. 9, 2011:

There have been numerous attempts to collect on said Judgment. Judgment Creditor’s counsel has never been able to directly connect with Judgment Debtor LEIGH STEINBERG at any of last known or suspected addresses to serve him. We retained a private investigator to perform a skip trace investigation to no avail.

More from Brandt on Steinberg’s alleged attempts to avoid paying the debt:

Judgment Creditor’s counsel made efforts to locate assets subject to simple execution, such as bank accounts in the name of Judgment Debtor. None have been located. Further investigation suggests that a sports management enterprise continues to freely operate. Calls connect to a recording stating “all circuits are busy.”

While it is unknown if STEINBERG & ASSOCIATES, LLC has accumulated significant hard assets, it appears likely that it now has a substantial income stream. LEIGH STEINBERG is a world-renowned sports and entertainment agent and continues to operate his business in Newport Beach under a different name.

Internet research reveals Debtor LEIGH STEINBERG was the inspiration as the sports agent in films such as “Jerry McGuire” (for which he had a cameo), and “Field of Dreams” and was an apparent consultant. He may receive residuals or fees from this involvement.

The Irvine Company legal counsel also noted that it appeared her client was not the only entity seeking repayment from Steinberg:

Public records disclose multiple judgments, tax liens, and other signs of distress as to Judgment Debtor STEINBERG. Therefore, Judgment Debtor STEINBERG now seems to keep a low public access profile with security protection around him that prevents process servers from gaining access to him. Accordingly, multiple prior attempts to serve a Debtors. Examination or other documents were unsuccessful.

STEINBERG lives the lavish life of a famous sports agent throwing lavish Super Bowl Parties for 25 years, this past one in Dallas where tickets sold for upwards of $3,500 a ticket for an excess of 2,500 guests, including expected guest former President George W. Bush. STEINBERG appears to present these parties wherein he uses the proceeds of his income with charitable donations with no application towards his countless judgments and debts; including the one at issue.

In essence, Judgment Debtor STEINBERG is a semi famous figure with huge apparent notoriety but shows signs of significant recent deterioration. Public records disclose multiple judgments, tax liens, and other signs of distress. Judgment Debtor now seems to keep a low public access profile. While in the public eye, he can host a grand Super Bowl party, at apparent great expense, yet process servers cannot seem to make direct contact with him.

He appears to have a phalanx of security protection around him that prevents process servers from gaining access to him unless he allows it.

While Steinberg’s attempts to avoid repaying the aforementioned adjudicated debt may seem extreme, his method in avoiding forking over what he owes former NFL player Chad Morton is allegedly even more extensive.

In documents filed to an Orange County court on Sept. 8, 2010, Morton attorney Laura Sullivan alleged that Steinberg, his girlfriend and business associates had engaged in an elaborate conspiracy designed to shield assets from a $900,000 debt Steinberg owed Morton.

The debt stemmed from Steinberg and associates’ failure to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans from Morton - which led to a $900,000 adjudicated settlement between the parties.

As part of the alleged scheme, Steinberg’s ex-executive assistant Ellen Goodman reported in November, 2009, under penalty of perjury to the court the following alleged activities by Steinberg and his cohorts:

I worked in this capacity from mid-2007 through August 2009. Previously, I had worked for LSSE and Steinberg in various capacities.

LSSE is a Nevada company that was created by Jeremiah Donati around December 2007.

LSSE holds itself out in the same way that Steinberg & Associates did: as a representation, marketing and consulting firm specializing in the careers of professional athletes, Olympians, coaches, and personalities.

LSSE is wholly owned by Leigh Steinberg. It carries on the same business as its Steinberg & Associates, LLC.

As Steinberg’s personal assistant and LSSE’s executive assistant (and as the executive assistant at LSSE’s predecessor Steinberg & Associates) I was responsible for virtually all administrative support of the business, as well as the personal support of Leigh Steinberg.

I was involved in virtually all aspects of LSSE’s and Steinberg’s financial affairs and managed LSSE’s and Steinberg’s banking affairs and accounts. I screened phone calls for Steinberg and directed calls to other top executives, including David Meltzer (LSSE’s current CEO and a lawyer I believe to be licensed in Florida) and Jeremiah Donati (general counsel).

I participated in this litigation, including responding to Chad Morton’s requests for the production of documents, and administering Morton’s attempted garnishments of the bank accounts of LSSE and Steinberg.

I was privy to LSSE’s and Steinberg’s discussions in responding to Morton’s judgment against them, including attending meetings with the executives of LSSE and Steinberg. After Morton’s judgment was entered in this case, there was routine discussion among David Meltzer, Jeremiah Donati, and myself regarding methods to shield income to LSSE and Steinberg from Morton’s collection efforts,

I administered Morton’s attempted garnishments of LSSE’s bank accounts with Wells Fargo in approximately April 2009.

After the garnishments were issued, I attended a meeting with LSSE’s banker to discuss options. After discussion with Meltzer, I agreed to open a new account on behalf of LSSE, but in my name only so that it would not be subject to any future garnishments in the name of LSSE or Steinberg (the new account).

I agreed to remove any reference to LSSE, Steinberg, or Steinberg’s social security number from the new account. I gave these instructions to LSSE’s banker at Wells Fargo.

I used the account and these checks on several occasions to pay LSSE’s and expenses including health insurance premiums and child support payments to Steinberg’s former Lucy Steinberg. However, the primary purpose of the account was to receive money and shield it garnishment.

During my tenure as Steinberg’s personal assistant and LSSE’s executive assistant, the financial affairs of Steinberg and LSSE were totally intermingled. I routinely paid Steinberg’s personal expenses from LSSE’s accounts, including Steinberg’s rent, utilities, child support payments, car lease payments and insurance premiums, medical expenses, entertainment expenses, his credit card, and gifts.

In the past year or so, two large sums of money were obtained on behalf of Steinberg and/or LSSE: an unsecured line of credit to Leigh Steinberg from San Diego Private Bank (SDPB), on which Steinberg withdrew a gross amount of approximately $400,000 and I believe approximately $300,000 through a New Jersey outfit known as Presidium Group of Companies (the Presidium transaction).

Both sources of income were actively shielded from Morton’s collection and were used to pay LSSE’s business expenses and Steinberg’s personal expenses.

Steinberg’s girlfriend, Amy Stoody, is a Newport Beach lawyer specializing in workers’ compensation matters. Around June of this year, I became aware that Stoody had opened a client trust account on behalf of Steinberg (the Stoody trust account). I understood that the purpose of the Stoody trust account was to shield income from Morton’s collection efforts, consistent with my earlier discussions with Meltzer that client trust accounts are not subject to garnishment.

Clients who were generating income for LSSE at the time I left include boxer Chris Arreola (for whom LSSE handles marketing), coach June Jones, and columnist Thomas George (for whom LSSE negotiated a contract with nfl.com).

Jeremiah Donati is a California lawyer as well as a certified athlete agent. It was widely discussed at LSSE that Steinberg allowed his own certification to lapse while he was being investigated by the National Football Players Association regarding his transactions with Chad Morton.

It was also widely discussed that Donati would receive his certification so LSSE would have a certified agent in Steinberg’s place.

During my tenure at LSSE, I incurred approximately $50,000 in personal debt. and was ultimately repaid these charges by LSSE, with funds obtained through the Presidium transaction. I often agreed to use my personal credit card to pay business expenses of LSSE and Steinberg’s personal expenses.

I was terminated by LSSE in August 2009. After I left, I was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement providing that I would not discuss LSSE’s affairs. I declined to sign the agreement.

Morton is now suing Steinberg and associates for additional, punitive damages with a jury trial scheduled to begin on Feb. 21, 2012 in an Orange County court.

In addition to his $1,440,038.12 debt to The Irvine Company and $900,000 currently owed Morton, according to Orange County court documents and records Steinberg reportedly owes:

  • Wells Fargo (2002 loan): $185,258.00
  • American Express (purchase balance): $43,516.00
  • IRS (tax lien): $17,384.00
  • State of California (tax lien): $10,464.00
  • Account Management Services: $7,924.25
  • The Irvine Company (back apartment rent) $3,051.97

Mercer County (NJ) court documents also indicate Steinberg owes the state of New Jersey $73,041.00 in back taxes.

Despite the ex-NFL agent’s distressed financial state, last January the LOS ANGELES TIMES reported that Steinberg hosted a high-profile Super Bowl party for the 25th straight NFL season - in a story titled, “Steinberg Still Host With Most.”

Steinberg also isn’t letting a private investigator - tailing him on behalf of at least one creditor owed over $1.4 million - affect his insatiable need for the media spotlight. Just two weeks ago, presumably from an undisclosed location, Steinberg publicly lashed out at Arizona State after the school pulled a deal Steinberg was negotiating for then-prospective ASU football coach June Jones. (Jones remained at SMU.)

In fact, not even an active arrest warrant can prevent the man who inspired a major motion picture that defined his industry from keeping his weekly column for the COSTA MESA (CA) DAILY PILOT current.

And to think all this time I never realized Cuba Gooding’s iconic line was actually, “Loan Leigh The Money!”

Follow Brooks on Twitter or join him on Facebook for real-time updates

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