Tom Girardi, disgraced lawyer, indicted on fraud charges
Tom Girardi, the once-vaunted Los Angeles trial attorney, has been indicted by federal grand juries in two states on fraud charges amid allegations of defrauding millions of dollars from injured and wounded clients, prosecutors said Wednesday.
In Chicago, Girardi and his son-in-law, attorney David Lira, and Girardi’s law firm’s former chief financial officer, Christopher Kamon, have been charged with eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of contempt of court. Prosecutors said they embezzled more than $3 million in settlement funds from the families of those killed in an Indonesian plane crash.
In Los Angeles, Girardi has been charged with wire fraud after he was accused of embezzling more than $15 million from clients and using the funds to cover his law firm’s payroll and pay for his personal expenses, including a hefty bill from American Express and fees at two country clubs. The LA case also includes charges against Kamon, the former CFO, noting that from 2010 until the Girardi Keese company collapsed in late 2020, he and his boss “planned, participated in, and executed a plan to defraud victim customers.” .
The indictment marks the latest chapter in Girardi’s downfall and follows extensive coverage by the Times of how Girardi evaded discipline from the state bar association despite decades of credible allegations of embezzling his clients’ money.
“Mr. Girardi and Mr. Kamon are accused of engaging in a widespread scheme to steal from their customers and lie to them to cover up the fraud,” US Attorney in LA Martin Estrada said in a statement “In doing so, they allegedly exploited the very people who trusted and depended on them most – their clients. Actions such as those alleged in the indictment bring the legal profession into disrepute and will not be condoned by my firm.”
In Chicago, US Attorney John R. Lausch Jr. said of Lira and Girardi, “Attorneys who violate the trust of their clients and breach a duty of loyalty that is paramount to the practice of law must be held accountable.”
Girardi, Lira and Kamon representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The charges against the 83-year-old former attorney, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease by a doctor in March 2021, set the stage for a legal battle over whether Girardi has standing to stand trial.
Girardi now resides in an Orange County nursing facility and is subject to a court-ordered conservatory that gives his younger brother Robert, a dentist in Seal Beach, the authority to make health care and financial decisions for him.
Conservatory records show that Girardi was prescribed medication for dementia and also suffers from blindness in one eye and “hearing problems”.
In LA legal circles, many have questioned whether the legal legend claimed dementia to avoid the consequences of his wrongdoing. The first claim that he had serious cognitive problems came from a criminal defense attorney at a December 2020 hearing where a federal judge confronted him with evidence he had stolen from millions of customers.
Officials at the State Bar of California even went to court to challenge the guardianship a few weeks after the diagnosis, saying the trial took place in “highly unusual circumstances” and that the evidence of impairment was “sparse.” In a filing, they noted that Girardi had hosted a training course for lawyers on complex litigation strategies a month before alleging cognitive problems. Agency officials asked for more extensive neurological testing for the attorney, but the request was denied.
Times investigation by Tom Girardi
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-02-01/tom-girardi-indictment-la-lawyer Tom Girardi, disgraced lawyer, indicted on fraud charges