Tom Girardi Indicted In 2 States Over Client Fraud Scandals

Federal prosecutors in Chicago and Los Angeles filed criminal charges against Tom Girardi Wednesday, alleging the disbarred California attorney stole more than $18 million in funds belonging to his firm’s clients.

Tom GirardiPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

In the Golden State, prosectors charged Girardi with five counts of wire fraud for allegedly embezzling $15 million over a ten year span. Prosecutors in Chicago charged him with eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of criminal contempt of court.

In the Los Angeles case, Girardi is accused of stealing money from clients who were injured in car crashes, including one family whose child was paralyzed as a result of a crash.

The Chicago charges stem from a nationwide wrongful death suit following the 2018 Boeing 737 MAX Lion Air Flight 610 crash in Indonesia that killed all 189 passengers onboard. Girardi is accused of misappropriating more than $3 million in client funds owed to families of the victims.

The former chief financial officer of Girardi’s now-defunct law firm Girardi Keese, Christopher Kamon, was also charged in the Chicago and Los Angeles cases. Girardi’s son-in-law, David Lira, who worked at the firm, was additionally charged with wire fraud and criminal contempt of court by the Chicago prosecutors. Representation for Lira said he is innocent and plans to plead not guilty.

Girardi has been summoned to appear in Los Angeles federal court on Monday. Girardi, Lira and Kamon are set to be arraigned in Chicago federal court on Tuesday.

Martin Estrada, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, described their actions as “fraud on a massive scale” during a Wednesday news conference.

Girardi’s legal and personal affairs are now handled by his brother Robert who has several times asserted that his brother is mentally incompetent, and a psychiatrist diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s disease.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s office claimed Girardi’s competency to stand trial “has not yet been litigated in this case and we expect it will be.”

Girardi’s fierce legal battle against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in the 90’s inspired the Oscar-winning film “Erin Brockovich.”

Girardi and his wife, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Erika Jayne Girardi, were sued in 2020 in Chicago federal court by another law firm in the Lion Air case that alleged they misused client funds.

Following his alleged conduct in the Lion Air case, the California Supreme Court disbarred Girardi in June. He has never formally responded to the state bar’s disciplinary charges.

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