Tom Girardi, Erika Jayne's Estranged Husband, Charged With Fraud Over Alleged $18 Million Client Embezzlement

Girardi on Wednesday was indicted by federal grand juries in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Erika Jayne's estranged husband, Tom Girardi, has been indicted with federal fraud charges by grand juries in Los Angeles and Chicago after allegedly embezzling more than $18 million from his clients.

The Justice Department on Wednesday announced the charges out of the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District of Illinois and the Central District of California. In the Illinois case, Girardi's accused of stealing more than $3 million in settlement money intended to go to the family members who lost loved ones in the October 2018 Lion Air Flight 610 crash.

Girardi, 83, and another California attorney were charged for a scheme prosecutors claim included Girardi using the settlement money to fund his own lavish lifestyle and to allegedly pay off loans to keep his law firm afloat.

For his alleged role, Girardi was charged with eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of criminal contempt of court. According to prosecutors, Girardi and two other defendants represented five clients who were relatives of passengers killed in the 2018 crash in Java Sea. Prosecutors allege that after Boeing Co. settled the lawsuits in federal court, the plane manufacturer wired settlement funds to a trust account belonging to Girardi's law firm.

Most of the money, prosecutors say, was intended to go to Girardi's clients but instead he's alleged to have misappropriated more than $3 million "by diverting the money for improper purposes, including paying the firm's payroll and operating expenses, and funding settlements to other Girardi Keese [law firm] clients, whose own settlement funds had been misappropriated by the firm."

As for the four counts of criminal contempt of court, prosecutors claim Girardi and the two other defendants "attempted to conceal their misappropriation from the clients," so much so that, at one point, "they falsely told the clients that the Covid‑19 pandemic prevented the firm from distributing the settlement funds, while at other times they falsely claimed that 'serious issues' had arisen with Boeing that delayed the distributions." 

Prosecutors say the defendants "made the false claims knowing Girardi Keese had already received the settlement funds from Boeing."

As part of the indictment, the feds also seek a forfeiture from the defendants in the amount of $3,069,500.

In Los Angeles, prosecutors allege Girardi embezzled more than $15 million from a couple involved in a car accident and whose son, as a result of the accident, was paralyzed. For his alleged crimes, Girardi's charged with five counts of wire fraud, a crime that carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

The indictment comes nearly a year and half after Girardi was disbarred by the California Federal Court. And, back in January 2022, Jayne had been dismissed from Girardi's embezzlement lawsuit.

Jayne, who has since filed for divorce from Girardi after 21 years of marriage, addressed the speculation from her Real Housewives of Beverly Hills castmates and viewers that she was presenting herself as a victim.  

"I have never said that I’m the victim. I am not a victim. I am simply surviving this," Jayne said in a reunion episode. "There is a very limited way in which I can express myself, because we all know everything will be picked apart, parsed and possibly turned against me." 

"That is why you see me answer in certain ways," she continued, adding that, even though she knows this, she's still been as open and honest as possible, even to her detriment. "It is best in any of these situations to be quiet. What did I do? I chose to say as much as I possibly could, and I still may have f**ked myself up, all right?"