Tom Girardi, the disgraced lawyer husband of Real Housewives star Erika Jayne, has been indicted for allegedly stealing $18million from clients.
As allegations of ripping off clients for millions have swarmed now disbarred lawyer Girardi for almost three years, federal grand juries in California and Illinois on Wednesday indicted the once highflying attorney, his law firm’s accountant Christopher Kamon and others for embezzlement.
“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,” U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Martin Estrada said as the indictment (read it here) was filed in federal court last night. “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.”
Having lifted more than $15 million from Golden State clients in a multi-bank account bait and switch and personal enrichment scheme that ran from 2010-2020, octogenarian Girardi faces five counts of wire fraud. The charges carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison if the defendant is found guilty.
A major player in LA legal circles for years, even before his RHOBH association, Girardi was well known for his role in the real-life 1980s suit against utility company Pacific Gas & Electric that inspired the Oscar winning 2000 Julia Roberts film Erin Brockovich.
Simultaneously in Chicago today, Girardi and Kamon were indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly snagging more than $3 million in settlement funds intended for relatives of victims killed in the 2018 crash of Lion Air Flight 610. With the feds seeking forfeiture from the duo and fellow attorney and Girardi son-in-law David Lira in the amount of $3,069,500, the trio were formally charged with eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of criminal contempt of court.
Each count of wire fraud in the Illinois matter carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.
Erika Jayne was not named in either indictment today.
Reps from Comcast-owned RHOBH broadcaster Bravo had no comment on the indictments when contacted by Deadline on Wednesday. RHOBH’s 12th season ended in October; executive producer Andy Cohen said late last year the show is “taking a minute break” after a fairly controversial cycle. No word yet on when exactly RHOBH will be back for a 13th season.
Booted out of being able to practice law by the California State Bar last July 1, the 83-year-old Girardi was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in March 2021 about a year after his firm collapsed. Although the speed of the diagnosis surprised manyr, Girardi is now under a conservatorship run by his younger brother and currently resides at an Orange County medical facility — all of which throws into doubt him showing up in court at any point.
Although the couple separated in November 2020 after 21 years together, Girardi and Jayne’s legal challenges were distinct plot lines on the last season of RHOBH as others urged Jayne to return diamonds and other high-priced gifts she’d received from what looked like dirty money. While linked to her spouse’s dealings for obvious reasons, Jayne last year won a lawsuit from two attorneys who claimed that she was aware and participating in Girardi’s scam.
Girardi is expected to be summonsed into federal court in California on February 6. No date for a hearing in the Illinois case appears to have been set.
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