Attorney Tom Girardi is charged with embezzling more than $15 million from clients.
On Wednesday, February 1, a grand jury accused Tom Giradi, a disgraced Los Angeles attorney and the former husband of Erika Jayne of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, for allegedly embezzling more than $15 million from his clients.
The co-founder of the now-defunct Los Angeles law practice “Girardi Keese,” Giradi, will now face five counts of wire fraud, each of which carries a potential sentence of 20 years in federal prison, according to the Department of Justice. In order to steal settlement money, Girardi and Christopher Kazuo Kamon, the former controller and chief financial officer of the legal company Girardi Keese, are accused of misrepresenting to their clients.
The lawyer and his former CFO are accused of using the gains from other clients to pay for personal costs, other clients’ settlements that had already been misappropriated, and payroll.
The DOJ provided details on how Girardi and Kamon, 49, allegedly carried out their crimes, adding that the two would allegedly deceive their clients into believing that they needed to fulfill certain conditions in order to access their money.
Among them were allegations that clients had to clear up alleged tax debts, get permission from judges, and pay off medical liens and other debts.
A family of two adults and a toddler who were disabled in a car accident was one of the accused victims featured in the indictment.
Due to the injuries they incurred in the collision, Girardi negotiated a $17.5 million settlement in July 2019. However, $5,119,449 of that sum was transferred to a bank account under his control.
The charge comes about three months after it became known that Girardi got away with a number of complaints throughout his legal career because the State Bar of California disbarred him despite ignoring hundreds of complaints that were submitted against him.
Following the original allegations of misappropriation, Giradi was disbarred in California in July 2022. Since then, he has been given an Alzheimer’s diagnosis and is now under a conservatorship.
In a press release, United States Attorney Martin Estrada stated;
“Mr. Girardi and Mr. Kamon stand accused of engaging in a widespread scheme to steal from their clients and lie to them to cover up the fraud.
In doing so, they allegedly preyed on the very people who trusted and relied upon them the most-their clients. Actions like the ones alleged in the indictment bring disrepute upon the legal profession and will not be tolerated by my office.”