A filing filed in Maryland federal court on Wednesday contained new details about how Tom Girardi’s chief financial officer carried out what prosecutors have described as a “collateral fraud” within the massive corruption at the law titan’s Los Angeles-based firm.
In an affidavit justifying the arrest of Christopher Kamon on wire fraud charges, an FBI agent wrote that Girardi Keese’s former CFO swindled his boss out of millions of dollars by convincing Girardi’s secretary that the company’s operating account company running out.
The secretary would then contact Girardi, who would in turn authorize Kamon to replenish the company’s allegedly depleted coffers with money from an escrow account holding client funds, Special Agent Elias Guerrero’s affidavit said. He wrote that Kamon has spent millions on home renovations, exotic cars and “female escorts.”
The alleged scheme was for at least $10 million, prosecutors said, and came at a time when an even larger scam involving up to $100 million in client funds was unfolding at the law firm.
“Ironically, Kamon appears to have been embezzling GK funds at the same time as Girardi and others [Girardi Keese] Clients, including Kamon, are suspected of separately embezzling funds from client escrow accounts,” Guerrero wrote.
Federal authorities have told the court they are continuing to investigate those involved in the larger fraud and theft scheme.
One beneficiary of Kamon’s alleged embezzlement was 29-year-old Nicole Rokita, whom the now 49-year-old CFO met on the website seekarrangements.com, “which connects wealthy older men with younger women,” according to the affidavit.
In early 2017, Kamon transferred $360,000 from Girardi Keese to Rokita and separately spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in fixed cash to buy her “jewelry, clothes, and even a Tesla sports car.” A federal prosecutor said last week the purchases included a purse valued at $120,000.
Rokita did not return messages asking for comment. An online resume and news articles identified her as the owner of a now-defunct “keto diet restaurant” on Santa Monica Boulevard. The nature of her relationship with Kamon is not clear. In 2017, she released a video showing her accepting a lavish marriage proposal from Kamon in Las Vegas that involved a private jet, professional dancers and a party with relatives.
“The most amazing proposal from my amazing fiance!!! Couldn’t be happier,” she wrote in a post after it was removed.
The affidavit indicated that Rokita was collaborating with the federal investigation. She told agents in recent interviews that Kamon listed her as a “legal marketer” for Girardi Keese and that she obtained health insurance through the law firm. She also shared how he became scared after the law firm collapsed two years ago.
“Kamon told Rokita that he thought he might be involved in the GK program and that he was leaving the country… changing his name and hiding from authorities when it came to a possible federal case,” Guerrero wrote.
Kamon bought a $2.4 million mansion in New Providence, Bahamas, in October and had told Rokita the island nation would grant him a residency after such a purchase. He was arrested at a Baltimore airport earlier this month after getting off a flight from the Bahamas. He is being held without bail as a potential flight risk pending a transfer to LA to face wire fraud charges.
Kamon also allegedly worked with the former law firm handyman to skim more than $5.6 million from the law firm. Handyman Isidro Bravo told federal agents during an interview last summer that Kamon recruited him for the scam and wrote him checks through the law firm’s account. After cashing the checks in his own account, Bravo returned much of the cash to Kamon, according to the filing.
Bravo, who did not respond to a message asking for comment, also kept some of the money as payment for construction and repair work he had done on Kamon’s personal property.
One of those checks to Bravo appears to be the basis of the wire fraud charges against Kamon: a $4,885.67 payment on Sept. 16, 2020, a time when the law firm’s clients were clamoring for unpaid settlement funds.
According to the affidavit, at least four other people involved in the construction deal received about $4 million from Girardi Keese, similar to Bravo. One of those contractors was Paulo Arrazola, who also told federal investigators he met Kamon when he worked at the law firm.
Arrazola said he undertook a 13-month renovation at Kamon’s Encino villa and rebuilt the plumbing system at Kamon’s Palos Verdes estate – work all paid for with checks written by Girardi Keese. Guerrero identified more than $1.2 million in payments to Arrazola between 2017 and 2020.
Guerrero is assigned to the White Collar Crimes Unit at the FBI’s LA Field Office. This office is currently headed by Donald Alway, son of Michelle Alway, who once dated Girardi and worked at his company. Donald Alway and his mother own a home in Monterey County that Girardi paid for in part, according to property and court records.
Donald Alway has declined to answer questions about his relationship with Girardi or if he has pulled out of the case. An FBI spokeswoman said most of the investigative work was done before he took over the LA office as an assistant director in August.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-11-17/escorts-kickbacks-and-a-tesla-new-details-in-scandal-and-fraud-at-tom-girardis-law-firm New details in scandal and fraud at Tom Girardi’s law firm