Earlier this month, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Jayne was implicated in a wide-reaching fraud case alongside husband Tom Girardi, alleging they were hiding their shared assets in a divorce. In a class-action suit filed in December, law firm Edelson PC claimed those assets were stolen from clients and victims by Girardi, and that Girardi’s law practice, Girardi Keese, is “on the verge of financial collapse and locked in a downward spiral of mounting debts and dwindling funds.” The suit alleged that through their divorce, the couple would “route the money” taken from clients“to friends and family and satisfy other outstanding debts.”
On Monday, Girardi was held in contempt of a Chicago court, after he and Girardi Keese failed to explain disappeared settlement funds owed to four families of the nearly 189 victims that died on Lion Air Flight 610 in 2018. The Los Angeles Times reports that U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin described Girardi’s actions as “unconscionable.” He also referred Girardi and his firm to the U.S. attorney’s office, which will conduct a criminal investigation into the alleged mishandling of $2 million in settlement funds. Judge Durkin told the court, according to the Times:
“No matter what your personal financial situation is, no matter what kind of pressures you are under, if you touch client money, you are going to be disbarred and quite possibly charged criminally. [...] You learn that in law school, and someone as experienced as Mr. Girardi knows that as well as anyone.”
The outlet also reports that during the digital hearing, attorneys for Girardi claimed he was not in possession of the $2 million in settlement funds, and added that his firm currently could not meet payroll demands for employees. His mental state was brought into question by his own attorneys, who said he might not understand “either the nature or gravity of the current situation.” Jayne’s divorce filing was also brought up as a reason why Girardi could not meet the “obligations and debts” he owes.
Edelson PC lawyer Jay Edelson, meanwhile, told the court that Girardi had attempted to pay him money last week to dismiss the contempt hearing this morning.
It’s certainly a heel turn from his and Jayne’s time on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, where she boasted of private planes and a glamour squad she could afford to jet across the world with her. Jayne has also been transparent that she and Girardi do not have a prenuptial agreement, and that it was his fortune that funded her career as a “pop star” and club performer. In its original lawsuit against the couple, Edelson PC claimed that Girardi and Jayne used settlement money to fund their lifestyle onscreen.
Coincidentally, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills shut down production after multiple cast members tested positive for coronavirus. But with a criminal investigation seemingly underway, I just can’t see how Erika Jayne will after multiple cast members tested positive for coronavirus. But with a criminal investigation seemingly underway, I just can’t see how Erika Jayne might spin any of this when filming finally resumes.