Judge Freezes Tom Girardi's Assets

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA — The assets of prominent attorney Thomas Girardi, ex-husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Jayne, were frozen Wednesday by a federal judge in Chicago.

U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin found that Girardi had embezzled at least $2 million in funds due to the families of the 189 victims killed in a 2018 plane crash in Indonesia.

Durkin called Girardi's behavior "unconscionable" and referred him to the U.S. attorney's office for criminal investigation.

"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," Durkin said.

Durkin said that his main priority is to make sure that the families of the Lion Air 610 flight receive their entire settlement. The exact terms of the settlement are unknown, but the Los Angeles Times reported that each of Girardi's clients was due $2 million, but only received about 75 percent of that.

During the hearing, Girardi's attorneys said that he does not currently possess the $2 million owed his clients. Attorney Evan Jenness told the judge that Girardi's firm, Girardi Keese, had about $15,000 in its operating accounts and could not make payroll.

Durkin ordered a trustee to oversee any assets remaining in Girardi's firm.

Jenness also told the judge that she was unsure that Girardi, 81, who called in by phone and remained silent throughout the proceedings, understood the "nature or the gravity of the current situation," and said that she wanted him to undergo a mental examination.

Jay Edelson, whose Chicago law firm filed the class action lawsuit on behalf of the victims' families, called those claims a sham, and told Durkin that Girardi offered him money to avoid the contempt hearing.

The asset freeze comes after a series of blows for Girardi. In November, Erika Jayne, his wife of 21 years divorced him for undisclosed reasons. Jayne and Girardi did not have a prenuptial agreement, but court documents have shown that Jayne is seeking spousal support and requesting that Girardi pay her legal fees throughout the divorce. According to a report in Us Weekly, Jayne also asked a judge to block her ex-husband from seeking spousal support from her.

In early December, Jayne and Girardi were hit with another lawsuit from Edelson's firm accusing both of them of embezzling money from the victims' funds, and alleging that their divorce is a "sham attempt" to "continue funding his and Erika's lavish Beverly Hills lifestyles."

Neither pair has commented publicly on the allegations.


Related coverage:

Erika Jayne And Ex-Husband Sued For 'Sham' Divorce

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This article originally appeared on the Beverly Hills Patch

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