By: States Attorney.
Share This Post
Embezzlement Victims of Tom Girardi Can Collect Payments from Estranged Wife, Erika Girardi, Judge Rules
Erika Jayne Girardi is being held accountable over her estranged husband’s embezzlement scheme. A new ruling on July 6, 2021, was made in favor of the Ruigomez family, who has now been authorized to collect $11 million from Erika Girardi as payment for Tom’s outstanding balance from the 2020 litigation. Erika Jayne has gotten involved in Tom’s litigations over speculations that the two have publicly filed for divorce a month prior to the onset of the lawsuits as a sham to protect both of their assets. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star has recently been required to submit her financial documents and was tasked to cooperate fully with the investigations after three motions have been filed by petitioning creditors to address Erika’s refusal to submit her financial statements. Tom Girardi faces a long list of legal actions sought against him and is currently under permanent conservatorship after being diagnosed with dementia and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Tom Girardi’s former clients and embezzlement victims – Jaime Ruigomez, Joseph Ruigomez, and Kathleen Ruigomez, have been authorized by a judge on July 6, 2021, to collect $11 million from Tom’s estranged wife, Erika Jayne Girardi. A judge ruled last Tuesday that the three victims can pursue a collections lawsuit against Erika Girardi in order to take back the $11 million that is owed to them by Tom per the 2020 litigation against Tom and Girardi & Keese law firm.
Table of Contents
- Details of the New Ruling
- The Case of the Ruigomez Family
- Motion Requesting for Transparency from Erika Girardi
- Information on Tom Girardi and Girardi & Keese
- More on Girardi’s Ongoing Lawsuits
- Information on the Divorce of Erika and Tom Girardi, and its Link to the Embezzlement Scheme
- Current Court Decisions Involving Tom Girardi
Details of the New Ruling
Court records indicate that the judge has previously put a hold on the collections lawsuit against Girardi’s assets due to the ongoing investigation being accomplished by a bankruptcy trustee against Tom Girardi and his law firm following their filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the year 2020. In such a case, a bankruptcy trustee is given the responsibility of gathering and selling the debtor’s non-exempt assets and using the proceeds of such assets to pay holders of claims according to the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code.
It was not until July 6 of this year that the Ruigomez’s were given permission to pursue the collections lawsuit against The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Jayne Girardi. The judge’s ruling was a result of the investigation made by the bankruptcy trustee, wherein it was reported by the bankruptcy trustee’s special litigation counsel that the law firm – Girardi & Keese – has transferred $20 million in loans to various businesses of Erika Girardi. The loans were identified to be non-exempt assets, which may be used to pay Tom’s creditors.
“All assets identified by the Ruigomez family shall be subject to all rights of the Girardi bankruptcy estate and the [Girardi Keese] bankruptcy estate, which parties shall meet and confer in good faith to determine the character/ownership of the identified assets,” the new document states, later adding, “The Ruigomez Family, the Girardi Trustee, and the GK Trustee shall cooperate with each other with their collection efforts against Erika.”
The Case of the Ruigomez Family
The Ruigomezs were former clients of Tom Girardi. He won a 2013 settlement against Pacific Gas & Electric, which was brought on after Jospeh Ruigomez suffered a near-death experience due to a gas explosion on the job. Following the settlement, Tom Girardi allegedly promised the Ruigomez family that he would invest the undisclosed settlement fund and would later disburse it to the clients in monthly payments; however, Girardi was said to have stopped making these payments later on. The Ruigomez family has revealed that they are now after the $20 million that the Girardi & Keese law firm lent to Erika Jayne’s businesses, suggesting that more than half of the money given to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star was from their promised settlement money amounting to $11 million.
Motion Requesting for Transparency from Erika Girardi
On June 23, 2021, the petitioning creditors in the bankruptcy case of Girardi & Keese have filed three separate motions. The court is being requested to order the accountant of Erika Girardi to hand over bank statements and other critical financial documents for the investigation. The motions accuse Erika of refusing to turn over her bank statements, pay stubs, as well as emails and text messages that pertain to her finances. The document also states that the Trustee has received zero cooperation from the RHOBHO star, further making it necessary to trace her money and investigate her finances, especially since her recent activities have been consistent with someone hiding assets. Erika Girardi was later required to submit her key financial documents and was requested to cooperate fully in the investigation.
“Moreover, the Trustee has received zero cooperation from Erika which is constant [sic] with someone hiding assets,” reads the motions filed.
Information on Tom Girardi and Girardi & Keese
Girardi & Keese is a Los Angeles-based law firm founded in 1965 by Thomas Girardi and Robert Keese. The firm is known for successfully recovering over $3 billion against several significant companies by representing clients in various legal areas. In the previous years, the company has faced lawsuits, including the 2018 Boeing Lion Air crash litigation, which resulted in a $2 million judgment against Tom and his law firm, along with the freezing of their assets after allegedly stealing the clients’ money. It was also later revealed that following the initial settlement, Tom Girardi applied under Paycheck Protection Program and received a PPP loan for Girardi & Keese, despite having just received an enormous settlement from the recent lawsuit. On top of that, Girardi’s name partner – Robert Keese, claimed that the $1.5 million Paycheck Protection Program loan that was funded by the United States Small Business Government to cover the payroll expenses of the 84 employees under the law firm, along with millions of embezzled settlement funds, were recklessly used by Tom to purchase luxury items such as a $250,000 Lamborghini, lavish homes, and private jets.
More on Girardi’s Ongoing Lawsuits
The aforementioned complaint is merely one of the several lawsuits alleging that Tom Girardi has embezzled millions of company funds. Litigation financing firms such as the Arizona-based lender, Stillwell Madison, and the California-based funder, Law Finance Group, have filed a lawsuit against Tom and his firm to repay loans amounting to millions of dollars. In addition to being accused of defaulting on million-dollar loans from a number of litigation lending firms, Thomas Girardi also faces lawsuits for claims including failure to disburse settlement funds to clients, ignoring fee arrangements with other lawyers, and other cases filed by court reporter services, office equipment vendors, and security guards. Tom Girardi’s retired name partner—Robert Keese, has also filed a case aiming to dissolve their 1126 Wilshire Partnership business venture, contending that Girardi owes their partners about $315,000 in profit from the partnership. The complaint states that Tom used the money for personal expenses, including taking out loans for a property valued up to $7,460,000 without the knowledge of his partners. The lawsuit filed by Keese also intends to liquidate the firm’s assets in order to receive compensation for the loss in equity he and the other partners suffered previously.
Information on the Divorce of Erika and Tom Girardi, and its Link to the Embezzlement Scheme
Along with facing embezzlement accusations, a bankruptcy case, and quite a number of lawsuits, Tom Girardi is also currently in the middle of a messy divorce with his wife, Erika Jayne. The RHOBOstar filed for divorce in November of 2020, a month before Tom got into this precarious legal situation. Despite having filed the divorce publicly, the recent turn of events regarding Tom and his firm’s legal circumstances has prompted speculations alleging that the divorce settlement was a front that aimed to fraudulently seek protection for the assets owned by the former couple. In line with this, Erika Jayne is now being held accountable for her former husband’s alleged embezzlement schemes as per the judge’s ruling in favor of the Ruigomez family. The lawyers of Erika Jayne have yet to respond to the allegations connecting her to Tom’s embezzlement schemes; however, Erika herself has released several statements, including giving more of her thoughts on the rumors that surround her divorce in an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Erika Jayne has also somewhat addressed the controversy in social media. The RHOBH star denies the claims that her divorce a sham and asserted that she could not have predicted the latest turn of events.
“That lawsuits that say my divorce is a sham so I could hide assets – people want to believe that,” said The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Jayne Girardi. She went as far as calling the allegations “insane” and asserts that she “never predicted this fucking shit,” also claiming that “this is the end.”
Current Court Decisions Involving Tom Girardi
Tom Girardi is said to have been recently diagnosed with dementia and late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. As such, his younger brother, Robert Girardi, has been officially named as the permanent conservator over Tom’s person and estate, as per the hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court on July 8, 2021.