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Santa Barbara Man Charged with Check Forgery Skips Court Hearings

DA's Office says Steven Kunes, also accused of submitting cribbed commentaries to Noozhawk and other local publications, may have fled to Pennsylvania

A Santa Barbara man charged with check forgery skipped two court hearings this month and may have left the state, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota.

Steven Kunes appears in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Wednesday.
Steven Kunes appears in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on Wednesday. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Steven Kunes, 54, was arrested in December on charges of second-degree commercial burglary, intent to commit larceny and any felony, and forgery counts after allegedly attempting to pass $12,000 in bad checks at Montecito Bank & Trust. Cota said Kunes was arrested March 17 on a parole violation and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

After Kunes failed to appear in Santa Barbara County Superior Court, Cota asked the judge to issue arrest warrants for each case.

Kunes is being represented by a public defender, and Cota said the representative from that office in court on Friday knew nothing about Kunes’ location.

Cota told Noozhawk on Monday that he has heard unconfirmed reports that Kunes left the area and went to Pennsylvania, where he’s originally from, so he had the judge increase the warrant bail amounts from $20,000 to $100,000 each on Friday. That way, according to Cota, if Kunes is picked up, he can’t immediately post bail and disappear again.

If Kunes is picked up by law enforcement on the warrants in another state, the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office most likely would have to go through an extradition process. However, Santa Barbara Bail Bonds also has an interest in finding him since it has $40,000 invested in him.

Bail bonds companies have the authority to find someone, pick them up and bring them back without an extradition process, which Cota said he guesses is how Kunes would make it back to Santa Barbara if he really left. He said bondsmen have a set number of days to find him, and “probably will for $40,000.”

Kunes’ criminal history includes prison time for check forgery and being implicated in forgeries at both Business First Bank and Montecito Bank & Trust.

He claims to be a screenwriter, but appears to have many holes in his self-proclaimed resume. His name doesn’t appear in periodicals he claims to have written for, on websites of awards he claims to have won, or in the credits for screenplays he has claimed to have written.

He has submitted plagiarized works to local publications, including Noozhawk, that were taken — sometimes verbatim — from Newsweek columnists.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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