Steven Kunes

Steven Kunes (born 1956) is an American conman and former screenwriter.[1] He has been convicted of felony commercial burglary and grand theft by false pretenses.

Steven Kunes
Alma materNew York University
Known forConvicted conman

Early life and education

Kunes was born in 1956 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1974 from Neshaminy High School,[2] and attended college at New York University.


Kunes' IMDb page claims writing credits for an episode of the TV show The Love Boat and a TV movie Alvin Goes Back to School, as well as various roles as an "uncredited creative consultant", but it has been heavily edited and redacted.[1] At various times he has claimed to have written Johnny Carson's final monologue,[3] worked on a Harry Potter film,[3] and written the biopic Catch Me If You Can.[1] In 2011, Kunes wrote a number of guest commentaries that were published by Santa Barbara media outlets. It was eventually discovered that they had largely been plagiarized from Newsweek columns and they were removed from websites.[1]

The Turner Classic Movies database, which, unlike IMDb is not editable by readers, lists as Kunes' only credit being a writer for Alvin Goes Back to School.[4]

Kunes is an active member of the Writers Guild of America, West,[5] the Authors Guild,[6] the Dramatists Guild,[7] and PEN America.[8] Kunes is the creator and executive producer of Over My Dead Body on Amazon Prime.[9]

Daily Variety articles

Daily Variety reported on June 10, 1992, that Kunes had sold a screenplay entitled First Comes Love for $1.2 million; although no film was produced, this was the highest amount paid for an original screenplay at the time of its sale.[10]


  • Four on the Four: Four Plays (ISBN 978-1983481444)
  • Uncle Jerry to Win (a novel) (ISBN 978-1985717411)
  • Pick Six: Six Screenplays (ISBN 978-1717594587)

In 1982, Kunes attempted to sell to People magazine an interview with reclusive author J. D. Salinger, whom he claimed he had met. Salinger sued and settled the case under the conditions that Kunes was "permanently enjoined from representing by any means that he is associated with Salinger", barred from "exhibiting, transmitting or exhibiting documents, writing or statements attributed to Salinger" and "required to collect and turn over any such documents or writings for destruction". The interview was never published.[11][12] He later succeeded in selling a fake interview with Jimmy Buffett to the Santa Barbara Daily Sound.[3]

Kunes was arrested on March 17, 2011, for purportedly swindling his friend, former Café Buenos Aires owner Wally Ronchietto, out of $2,000 for a nonexistent movie deal.[3] On April 23, 2011, Noozhawk, a Santa Barbara online publication, announced that it had removed six of Kunes' articles from its digital archives as two contained plagiarized passages.[13]

On August 27, 2011, a Santa Barbara judge issued a $200,000 bench warrant for his arrest when he failed to appear in court.[14] Thought to have been hiding in Bucks County, he was apprehended in New Jersey less than a month later. [15] At court, Kunes pleaded guilty and admitted to forging checks.[16] On May 4, 2012, he was sentenced to five years in jail for felony commercial burglary and grand theft by false pretenses. A plea deal allowed for a sentence of only four years if Kunes had paid restitution to his victims, but no payments were made.[17][18] In February 2013, Kunes was re-arrested. He had been serving his five-year sentence and had been approved for electronic monitoring on August 1, 2012. Kunes removed the device on August 22, 2012, and mailed the device back to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office. A photo posted on the Sheriff's Office Facebook page led to his identification at a Carpinteria cafe and his subsequent arrest.[19][20] He was released from prison in June 2015 but arrested again for violating the terms of his probation after falsely telling the Bucks County Courier Times that he was producing a Netflix series called Over My Dead Body.[2][20]


  1. Hayden, Tyler (February 28, 2013). "Conman works jail system". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
  2. Sipes, Adrian (January 22, 2016). "Steven Kunes, bogus Netflix producer, in Bucks County prison". Bucks County Courier Times. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  3. Hayden, Tyler. "A Tale Stranger Than Fiction: Hollywood Screenwriter with History of Mischief Accused of Theft". Santa Barbara Independent. Santa Barbara, California. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  4. Staff (ndg) "Filmography for Steven Kunes"
  5. Retrieved 2019-08-27. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. "Profile - Steven Kunes - The Authors Guild". Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  7. "Steven Kunes – The Dramatists Guild of America". Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  8. "Current Members: K". PEN America. 2017-03-03. Retrieved 2019-08-27.
  9. "Profile - Steven Kunes - The Authors Guild".
  10. Daily Variety, June 10, 1992, at Variety subscription required: "Westport Film Partners, a new-comer to production, has paid $ 1.2 million for 'First Comes Love' by Steven Kunes."
  11. Weber, Myles. "Augmenting the Salinger Oeuvre by Any Means" in Bloom, Harold, ed. J. D. Salinger New York: Infobase Publishing ("Bloom's Modern Critical Views" series), 2008; pp. 199, 202, 210
  12. Associated Press "Lawsuit by Salinger muzzles his imitator" Ottawa Citizen November 5, 1982, p. 65, col. 1
  13. Magnoli, Giana (May 4, 2011). "Accused Forger, Plagiarist Steven Kunes Appears in Court: The Santa Barbara man, who submitted apparent cribbed commentaries to local publications, is also suspected of trying to pass $12,000 in bad checks". Noozhawk. Santa Barbara and Goleta, California. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  14. Hayden, Tyler (August 27, 2011). "Judge Issues Warrant for Wanted Screenwriter: Steven Kunes, Charged with Felony Forgery and Grand Theft, Fails to Appear in Court". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved August 27, 2011.
  15. Finley, Ben; Dan Perez (September 16, 2011). "Cops: Neshaminy grad wrote more than just scripts in California". Philadelphia. Archived from the original on April 1, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  16. Hayden, Tyler (November 29, 2011). "Steven Kunes Admits to Forging Checks and Scamming Friend: Will Spend Four or Five Years Behind Bars, Depending on Restitution to Victims". Santa Barbara Independent. Santa Barbara, California. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  17. Hayden, Tyler (May 8, 2012). "Scheming Screenwriter Sentenced to Five Years". Santa Barbara Independen. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  18. Magnoli, Giana (May 4, 2012). "Check Forger Steven Kunes Sentenced to 5 Years in Santa Barbara County Jail". Noozhawk. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  19. Nelson, Michelle (February 25, 2013). "Facebook Photo Leads to Arrest of Fugitive Steven Kunes". Noozhawk. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
  20. Garcia, Léna (January 22, 2016). "Former-Montecito Conman Arrested in Pennsylvania". Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
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