BEVERLY HILLS—Thomas Girardi, 83, who is the estranged husband of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” cast member Erika Jayne, 51, is being accused of stealing millions from his clients. Girardi is expected to surrender Monday, February 6.
The indictment was filed on Wednesday, February 1, in the U.S. District Court of Chicago, and names Girardi’s law partners Christopher Kamon and David Lira on 12 counts of fraud and other crimes. Kamon and Lira run the accounting and finance department of Girardi’s firm.
Nine of those twelve counts allege wire fraud and three allege misconduct stemming from allegations the defendants failed to distribute money owed to their clients. According to the indictment, the defendants used the money to pay firm expenses, including payroll, charges on an American Express card and distributions to other clients.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada in a statement. “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.”
One of Girardi’s clients allegedly defrauded was a man from San Bruno, California, who was severely injured in a natural gas explosion. Girardi told this client that the settlement for his case only amounted to $7.25 million when it was $53 million.
In another case, a client’s son was paralyzed in a car crash and the firm secured $17.5 million as a settlement. The legal team falsely claimed that tax issues, nonexistent court proceedings and past medical bills were slowing distribution of the funds and only paid them part of the money owed.
In a case involving a client from Havasu City, Arizona, the client’s husband died in a boating accident. Girardi was said to have used a portion of a $504,000 settlement “to make payments to two exclusive country clubs.”
Charges in Chicago stem from a case involving five clients who lost loved ones in the Lion’s Air crash in 2018. That accident killed 189 people.
One of the crimes he is accused appeared on an episode during the recent season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” where his wife’s co-stars felt she should give her diamond earrings back to the fraud victims.
There is some speculation that Girardi’s Dementia diagnosis may possibly be used as a defense in court. The court’s will decide if a medical expert is necessary to determine if he is competent and able to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense.
Girardi is one of the best-known and most respected attorneys in Southern California.