Warrant issued for agent Leigh Steinberg over debt

Associated Press

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — "Show me the money" indeed: A bench warrant over a $1.4 million debt has been issued for the sports agent who was the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire."

The warrant for Leigh Steinberg's arrest was issued after he failed to appear in court last week in a case involving a judgment owed to a landlord, Carole Levitzky, a spokeswoman for Orange County Superior Court, said Thursday.

Court papers show Steinberg was ordered to pay $1.4 million last year to the Irvine Company in a default judgment for office space he leased in Newport Beach.

Steinberg stopped paying under the terms of his lease in 2009, according to court papers filed by the landlord, which declined to comment on the case.

Steinberg was the inspiration for Tom Cruise's character in 1996's "Jerry Maguire," which turned "Show me the money!" into an enduring catchphrase, though Steinberg isn't actually known for using that phrase.

Steinberg said he's not hiding or running from the law. He said he has an office open for business in Irvine and thousands of friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter.

The 62-year-old agent said he's still representing athletes and he's acting as a consultant on projects related to sports in movies, television and video games.

Steinberg said he had asked his attorney to change the date of his Dec. 15 hearing and was told it was taken care of. Steinberg said he was unaware he had a warrant in the case, which stems from some payments he missed in 2009 before moving to less expensive office space.

"Since when in this country do you put people in jail for having debt?" he said in a phone interview Thursday. "The point is, I had some financial struggles, which I regret. And I am working hard right now to pay the debts I owe."

Steinberg said his financial troubles stem in part from his divorce several years ago. He separated from his wife in 2006.

The Irvine Company earlier this month asked the court to require Steinberg to apply a portion of his income stream to pay the judgment, alleging process servers have been unable to directly contact him.

"Steinberg is a semi famous figure with huge apparent notoriety but shows signs of significant recent deterioration," Brooke Brandt, an attorney for the Orange County real estate company, wrote in a Dec. 9 court filing. "He appears to have a phalanx of security protection around him that prevents process servers from gaining access to him unless he allows it."

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 6.

Steinberg is considered the first super agent in sports, having represented such NFL stars as Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Warren Moon and Ben Roethlisberger, as well as boxer Oscar De La Hoya. His resume includes representing eight No. 1 overall NFL draft picks. He began his career in 1975 and was able to secure huge signing bonuses for some of football's biggest stars.

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Associated Press writer John Rogers contributed to this report from Los Angeles. AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson contributed from San Diego.

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