Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Former Lawyer Steven Krell Arrested on Grand Theft Charges
By TINA BAY, Staff Writer
Los Angeles Police Department detectives yesterday arrested former Studio City attorney Steven Krell on a felony complaint charging him with stealing nearly $1.5 million from clients, the local District Attorney’s office said.
According to Deputy District Attorney Lynne H. Smith of the Major Fraud Division, Krell was arrested without incident from his Studio City home and is being held on $1.5 million bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday morning at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center on two counts of grand theft and one count of theft from elder, with the special allegation that the theft exceeded $150,000.
Krell helped to manage people’s trust accounts between 1997 and 2003, during which he allegedly embezzled almost $1 million from a trust fund for a 90-year-old woman who was mentally incapacitated. In a separate incident during the same time period, he allegedly stole $400,000 from another client who wrote checks totaling $538,000 to be invested with his firm.
The alleged thefts came to light in 2003 when a business manager became suspicious upon learning that Krell was allegedly staying in expensive suites in Las Vegas and gambling at high roller tables.
Krell, 58, became ineligible to practice law in May 2004 and resigned from the State Bar in June 2004 with charges pending.
Based on records of disciplinary actions by the California and Nevada boards of accountancy, Krell at some point signed a stipulated settlement with his prior firm under which he agreed to surrender all professional licenses.
His California CPA license was revoked pursuant to that agreement, after he admitted the truth of allegations identical to those made in the present criminal complaint.
According to the Nevada records, Krell, after signing the stipulated settlement in California, allegedly obtained a Nevada license and serviced clients in that state. Nevada’s accountancy board revoked his license in January 2005.
Krell is a graduate of California State University, Los Angeles and Southwestern University School of Law. Prior to resigning from the State Bar, he had been a member since 1982.
If convicted, the former lawyer faces more than six years in state prison.
Calls seeking further information from the district attorney’s office were not immediately returned.
Copyright 2006, Metropolitan News Company