WHITTIER – The defense attorney for an alleged ax-wielding tenant accused a landlord of stealing disability checks from his client during a preliminary hearing Thursday in Whittier Superior Court. Joseph Romano, 30, was arrested Dec. 11. He is accused of using a 3-foot replica ax from the “Lord of the Rings” movies to threaten his landlord during a dispute. District Attorney Lauren Guber said Romano was wielding the ax when he caused $1,200 in damage to a seven-bedroom house in which he rented a room. But defense attorney Lynn C. Storing said the landlord, Robert Munoz, was intercepting disability checks sent to Romano and depositing them into his own bank account. He said Romano started pushing him and wielding the ax, which first hit a doorjamb before being used to smash five windows. Whittier police Officer John King testified he found both Munoz and Romano at the residence on Dec. 11. King said he heard Romano yell, “I’m going to get a lawyer and destroy you.” Romano is charged with assault with a deadly weapon, making criminal threats and vandalism. Commissioner Loren DiFrank ruled there was enough evidence to proceed to trial and set a Jan. 10 date for arraignment at Norwalk Superior Court. Romano remains in Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles in lieu of $120,000 bail. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3015160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonStoring said Munoz runs a sober-living facility housing five people on Hoover Street. During testimony, Munoz was offered a court-appointed attorney on the basis he might have incriminated himself when he admitted depositing the checks sent to Romano. “I had his permission,” Munoz said, referring to Romano. Munoz also denied running a sober-living facility, saying he just rents out rooms in the house located in the 6200 block of Hoover Street. The altercation took place on Dec. 11 when he asked Romano to move out, Munoz said.