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Onetime high-flying lawyer Girardi indicted on client theft

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Disgraced former prominent Los Angeles attorney Tom Girardi has been indicted by federal grand juries in Los Angeles and Chicago for stealing more than $18 million from clients, federal prosecutors said Wednesday with.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Disgraced former prominent Los Angeles attorney Tom Girardi has been indicted by federal grand juries in Los Angeles and Chicago for stealing more than $18 million from clients, federal prosecutors said Wednesday with.

The indictments are the latest in a string of legal strikes for a once-powerful player who is one of the nation’s most prominent lawyers rubbing elbows with politicians and celebrities and is known for winning comparisons like those portrayed in the film “Erin Brockovich.” . ”

Girardi considered himself a champion who received big payouts to compensate people harmed by big corporations but “robbed and stole from those people,” Los Angeles Attorney Martin Estrada said at a news conference.

“He claimed to fight for the less fortunate,” Estrada said. “But our investigation has revealed that behind this public figure fraud was committed on a large scale.”

The plans included stealing funds from a couple whose son was left paralyzed in a car accident, a widow whose husband died when a boat unexpectedly accelerated to 120 miles per hour (193 kilometers per hour) and overturned, and family members of Victims in a 2018 Lion Air crash that killed 189, according to the indictment.

Girardi, 83, who once played a supporting role in “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” which starred his now estranged Erika Jayne, was disfellowshipped last summer for withdrawing funds intended for clients. His company Girardi Keese is bankrupt, he is said to be suffering from dementia and is under judicial care.

US prosecutors in Chicago said Girardi, his attorney, son-in-law and their firm’s chief financial officer, accepted funds on behalf of five clients who reached settlements with Boeing, makers of the 737 Max, operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air and scheduled to fly on April 27. October plunged into the Java Sea in September 2018, killing 189 people.

“The substantial embezzlement alleged in this indictment increased the grief and anxiety of clients who lost loved ones in the Lion Air crash,” said John Lausch, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

A Chicago law firm involved in the Lion Air case last year filed a racketeering lawsuit alleging that Girardi and his associates were essentially running a Ponzi scheme and stolen $100 million from their clients, lawyers , with whom they worked, and others were deducted.

“The real story seems like a story out of a John Grisham novel: Girardi Keese was little more than a criminal enterprise disguised as a law firm,” reads the lawsuit filed by the Los Angeles law firm Edelson. “In fact, as we now know, the Girardi Keese company operated the largest criminal racketeering operation in the history of plaintiffs.”

Girardi made his name and money by taking on powerful corporations and public institutions, including Hollywood’s major film studios, Lockheed, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Pacific Gas and Electric in a case involving the film “Erin Brockovich.” inspired by Julia Roberts in 2000”, for which he acted as a consultant.

“This particular case has revolutionized how people think about all the toxic things they’re exposed to,” he told Attorney at Law magazine in 2015.

Girardi married Jayne in 2000. She became a member of the cast of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, in which he made several appearances. He spent considerable money to fund an unsuccessful musical career for her.

Jayne filed for divorce in 2020.

Girardi and attorney David Lira, his son-in-law, and the firm’s chief financial officer, Christopher Kamon, face eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of criminal contempt of court in Chicago.

Girardi and Kamon, 49, face wire fraud charges in Los Angeles for embezzling more than $15 million from customers, prosecutors said.

In a case detailed in the LA indictment, Girardi settled a case in which a man was badly burned in a utility explosion for $53 million. But he told the client the settlement was for $7.25 million.

More than half of the settlement was then embezzled and used to pay expenses, fixed liabilities and other clients whose funds had also been embezzled. Payments to the fire victim, meanwhile, have been delayed through a variety of delaying tactics.

Online court records do not indicate whether Girardi or the other two men have attorneys in the case.

Kamon is in custody and Girardi is expected to appear in US District Court in Los Angeles on Monday.

Indictments are not yet planned in Chicago.


Foody reported from Chicago. Associated Press journalist Andrew Dalton contributed to this report.

Brian Melley and Kathleen Foody, The Associated Press

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