A grand jury has indicted Tom Girardi for allegedly embezzling more than $15 million from his clients, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday.
The disgraced attorney, 83, was charged with five counts of wire fraud, according to a copy of the indictment obtained by Page Six.
Girardi and Christopher Kazuo Kamon, the former controller and chief financial officer of the law firm Girardi Keese, are accused of lying to their clients in order to misappropriate settlement funds.
The attorney and his former CFO allegedly used the clients’ winnings to fund payroll, other clients’ settlement funds that had previously been misappropriated and personal expenses.
The DOJ detailed how Girardi and Kamon, 49, allegedly pulled off their crimes, noting that the pair would tell their duped clients that there were certain requirements they had to meet in order to access their money.
Among those obstacles were claims that clients had to eliminate purported tax obligations, obtain authorizations from judges and satisfy medical liens and other debts.
One of the alleged victims highlighted in the indictment was a family consisting of two adults and a child, who was paralyzed in a car crash.
In July 2019, Girardi negotiated a $17.5 million settlement due to the injuries they sustained in the accident, but $5,119,449 of that money was deposited into a bank account controlled by the now-disbarred lawyer.
According to the DOJ, Koman is in federal custody. Meanwhile, Girardi resides at a senior living facility in Orange County, Calif., as he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in March 2021.
The alleged scammer — who was famously married to “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Erika Jayne — is in a conservatorship overseen by his brother, Robert Girardi, because of his mental health issues.
An attorney for Robert did not immediately return Page Six’s request for comment.
The IRS Criminal Investigation agency and the FBI are probing the case against Girardi — which could see him facing up to 20 years behind bars — with the assistance of the Office of the United States Trustee, per the DOJ’s press release.
Special Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher of the IRS Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles Field Office said in a scathing statement in the release, “Thomas Vincent Girardi should have been a pillar to our community. Instead, he is accused of creating an elaborate scheme to mislead his clients, victimizing them for a second time.
“Attorneys are put in a position of trust when they represent us during some of our most difficult times. Mistrust in the legal profession grows when clients can’t trust their attorneys to pay them the settlements intended to make them whole.”
He concluded, “IRS Criminal Investigation, along with federal prosecutors and our law enforcement partners, will continue to seek to keep the legal profession honest.”
The indictment comes nearly three months after it was revealed that Girardi got away with “serious failures” throughout his legal career as the State Bar of California ignored hundreds of complaints filed against him and did not disbar him because of it.
“[He] caused irreparable harm to hundreds of his clients, and the State Bar could have done more to protect the public,” chairperson Ruben Duran wrote on behalf of the State Bar’s Board of Trustees in a letter obtained by Page Six in November 2022. “We can never allow something like this to happen again.”