On February 1, 2023, the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills husband Thomas Girardi got charged with a 12-count indictment after a long legal battle. Let’s explore the details of the charges with Ehline Law and our personal injury attorneys.
Co-founder of the now-defunct Girardi & Keese, Tom Girardi, was a superstar in the legal world. Looking back at his achievements over his legal career, “superstar” is an underrated term.
Girardi was the first lawyer to be part of the California Judicial Council and one of the few attorneys who advised politicians on judicial appointments.
Girardi took on cases against powerful corporations, with one lawsuit becoming an inspiration for the 2000 Julia Roberts film “Erin Brockovich.”
The world of glamor that Thomas Girardi had built in the past few decades started to shake and crumble after allegations of embezzlement and fraud began to surface.
By December 2020, a federal court rained down on Girardi by freezing his assets after allegations of embezzling more than $2 million of client funds from the Boeing 737 MAX Lion Air Flight 610 crash. The same month, Girardi & Keese law firm filed for bankruptcy, but none of the executives showed up at the bankruptcy hearing in January 2021.
By March 2021, the situation worsened, and Girardi was now facing over a hundred lawsuits, with multiple complaints filed in the California State Bar. Pressure on the California State Bar increased, and in March 2021, they decided to revoke Girardi’s license to practice law in California. More than a year later, in June 2022, a court disbarred Girardi, requiring the barred attorney to pay $2.3 million in restitution.
According to the recent lawsuit against Girardi, the showy attorney allegedly stole millions of dollars in settlement money that his clients and the injured victims deserved. Girardi now faces eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of criminal contempt, totaling 12 serious charges.
The complaint, reported by Matt Hamilton and Harriet Ryan from Los Angeles Times, accuses Girardi of colluding with Christopher Kamon (his law firm partner) and David Lira (the accounting department head) to defraud more than $15 million in the settlement money paid by Boeing to the family members who lost their loved ones in the 2018 Boeing-Lion Air crash.
According to the indictment, Girardi represented five families of the crash victims who had to receive $12.5 million in settlements. By June 2020, Boeing transferred the entire settlement money as agreed with the five families affected by the crash Girardi was representing.
Although Boeing allocated millions of dollars in funds to victims of the crash, Girardi & Keese held onto the settlement money in IOLTA accounts, a type of trust account that collects interest that Girardi and Kamon had access to.
The law firm, especially Girardi and Kamon, continued to blame Boeing for holding onto the settlement money, buying more and more time from the injured victims who desperately awaited compensation so they could move on with their lives.
The bandit trio moved the Boeing settlement funds to other clients whose settlement funds were previously misappropriated.
Behind the scenes, Girardi used the rest of the settlement money to pay for his law firm’s operating expenses and the debt he had accumulated using American Express credit cards to fund his lavish and glamorous lifestyle.
A despicable act indeed, Girardi, who many knew as a legal savior, took advantage of the injured victims when they were the most vulnerable. The federal court jury indicted the former husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Erika Girardi, but the story of fraud and deceit does not end there.
In 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the country’s top intelligence watchdog, alleged that Christopher Kamon, the Chief financial officer at Girardi & Keese, duped Girardi of millions of dollars.
The affidavit that justified the arrest of Kamon stated that he would lie to Girardi’s secretary about the law firm’s dwindling financial reserves, and Girardi would then permit him to use clients’ trust money to replenish the firm’s financial standing. According to the affidavit, Kamon spent millions on home renovations, exotic cars, and female escorts.
Ironically, Kamon was swindling the money outside the firm on his lavish living at the same time when he and the other executives, including Girardi, were misappropriating the client’s funds from the trust accounts.
The US District Court stated that the Ponzi scheme running at the Girardi & Keese is far greater than the evidence found by investigative agencies. The FBI continues to investigate a larger case of stolen funds, hindered by the web laid by Kamon, an expert in financial layering.
A federal prosecutor stated that Kamon favored younger women and would connect with them on seekingarragements.com. One of them was a 29-year-old Nicole Rokita, who received $360,000 from Girardi & Keese in 2017 in addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars of the firm’s money Kamon spent on buying Rokita luxury gifts, including Jewelry, clothes, a Tesla car, and a handbag that prosecutors value at $120,000.
In a 2017 video posted on social media by Rokita, the posts show a lavish wedding proposal arranged by Kamon that included a private jet, professional dancers, and a massive party.
According to the affidavit, the FBI tracked down Nicole Rokita, who cooperated with them in the federal investigation. Rokita told the federal agents that Kamon listed her as a legal marketer for Girardi & Keese and that Kamon mentioned how he would flee the country and change his name to escape the grips of the law enforcement agency if they brought a federal case against him.
Rokita also mentioned that Kamon recently purchased a $4.2 mansion in the Bahamas in the hopes that he would receive citizenship, a safe haven in the Bahamas where the authorities wouldn’t get to him. However, he didn’t realize that the federal agents were already planning his arrest and got to him at the Baltimore Airport after he got off the flight from the Bahamas.
A handyman, Isidro Bravo, exposed further wire fraud carried out by Kamon, revealing to the federal agents that Kamon colluded with him to siphon more than $5.6 million of the law firm’s money.
According to the filing, Kamon would issue Bravo checks, and he would cash them out and give most of it back to Kamon. What’s shocking is Bravo was one of the many people who worked with Kamon in his schemes.
Your lawyer has the duty to ensure they use the ordinary skill and care that other lawyers would use in handling a similar case. If your attorney is negligent in handling your case, you may be able to sue them for malpractice and get your money back.
Here are a few signs of legal malpractice to help you understand if your attorney is negligent when handling your claim:
If your attorney is not fulfilling its duty to you, it’s best to change your lawyer. Contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation to discuss your case and learn more about your legal options.
Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of the largest motorcycle accident settlements in U.S. History. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves in being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride, and a a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.
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