Disgraced Attorney Tom Girardi’s Competency Uncertain In Fraud Trial

BEVERLY HILLS, CA — Disgraced former attorney Tom Girardi, co-founder of the defunct Los Angeles law firm Girardi Keese, appeared in federal court Monday and had a not-guilty plea entered on his behalf to charges of embezzling more than $15 million from several of his legal clients.

Girardi, the ex of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” Erika Jayne, was indicted last week on fraud charges for allegedly embezzling over $15 million of funds from clients, according to court documents. Girardi was disbarred last year and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in March 2021 and now lives in a memory care facility in Orange County. His younger brother has control of all medical and financial decision-making as Girardi is in a court-ordered conservatorship, the Los Angeles Times reported.

After his appearance Monday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom, Girardi, 83, was allowed to remain free on $250,000 bond.

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When asked last week about Girardi’s ability to stand trial in light of reports of his dementia, U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said the defendant’s competency “has not been evaluated by a federal criminal court.”

Girardi was indicted on five counts of wire fraud in Los Angeles and eight additional counts in Chicago. He is accused of defrauding clients and misappropriating funds as far back as 2010, according to the indictment. Girardi and his Chief Financial Officer Christopher Kamon, 49, of Palos Verdes “knowingly and with intent to defraud, devised, participated in, and executed a scheme to defraud victim clients to whom defendant [Girardi] and Girardi Keese had agreed to provide legal services,” prosecutors allege.

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Girardi would negotiate a settlement on behalf of his client but would conceal and falsely describe the terms, according to federal prosecutors. Money would be directed to attorney trust accounts, from which he would misappropriate the settlements for personal expenses and his firm’s payroll, prosecutors claimed in the indictment.

Girardi is in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings, as is the now-shuttered Wilshire Boulevard law firm that bore his name, which faces more than $500 million in claims.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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