April 18, 2024

Central District of California | Grand Jury Charges Disbarred Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Tom Girardi with Wire Fraud for Allegedly Embezzling Over $15 Million in Client Money

Central District of California | Grand Jury Charges Disbarred Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Tom Girardi with Wire Fraud for Allegedly Embezzling Over $15 Million in Client Money

LOS ANGELES – Previous plaintiffs’ own personal injury law firm Thomas Vincent Girardi has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly embezzling far more than $15 million from various of his authorized customers, the Justice Office introduced today.

Girardi, 83, of Seal Seaside, who owned the downtown Los Angeles-dependent Girardi Keese legislation organization, is billed with five counts of wire fraud, a criminal offense that carries a statutory most sentence of 20 several years in federal prison.

Girardi, a when-potent determine in California’s legal group till lenders compelled his law business into bankruptcy in December 2020, is predicted to seem on Monday, February 6 at the United States District Court docket for arraignment. The State Bar of California disbarred Girardi in July 2022.

Also billed in the indictment unsealed these days is Christopher Kazuo Kamon, 49, previously of Encino and Palos Verdes and who was residing in The Bahamas at the time of his November 2022 arrest on a federal prison complaint. He continues to be in federal custody.

Kamon was the controller and chief fiscal officer of Girardi Keese from 2004 right up until December 2020. In this role, Kamon oversaw the regulation firm’s financial affairs, supervised its accounting section, and oversaw paying the firm’s charges.

The indictment alleges that, from 2010 to December 2020, Girardi and Kamon fraudulently acquired additional than $15 million that belonged to Girardi Keese shoppers.

“Mr. Girardi and Mr. Kamon stand accused of partaking in a widespread plan to steal from their clients and lie to them to go over up the fraud,” explained United States Lawyer Martin Estrada. “In undertaking so, they allegedly preyed on the very men and women who dependable and relied on them the most—their purchasers. Steps like the kinds alleged in the indictment deliver disrepute upon the legal occupation and will not be tolerated by my business office.” 

“Mr. Girardi and Mr. Kamon allegedly designed a mirage about many years in get to disguise the simple fact that they had been robbing Girardi Keese customers of large sums of money” said Amir Ehsaei, the Performing Assistant Director in Cost of the FBI’s Los Angeles Subject Business office. “The defendants exploited the hardships endured by their clients and took edge of their unfamiliarity with the lawful method when they denied victims what was rightfully due to them in get to fund their lavish lifestyles.” 

“Thomas Vincent Girardi need to have been a pillar to our group. In its place, he is accused of generating an elaborate scheme to mislead his clientele, victimizing them for a 2nd time,” claimed Exclusive Agent in Demand Tyler Hatcher of the IRS Prison Investigation’s Los Angeles Industry Office. “Attorneys are put in a placement of trust when they stand for us for the duration of some of our most complicated moments. Mistrust in the legal occupation grows when customers just can’t believe in their attorneys to pay them the settlements intended to make them whole. IRS Criminal Investigation, alongside with federal prosecutors and our regulation enforcement associates, will continue on to look for to keep the authorized profession straightforward.”

In furtherance of their alleged scheme to defraud, Girardi negotiated settlements on behalf of clientele, but then allegedly concealed the settlement’s true terms and lied about the disposition of the settlement proceeds.

Girardi and Kamon would allegedly cause the settlement proceeds to be deposited in or transferred to lawyer rely on accounts to which each adult males experienced obtain. Girardi and Kamon then embezzled and misappropriated settlement funds from these accounts for incorrect functions, which include paying out other Girardi Keese consumers whose settlement resources experienced previously been misappropriated and shelling out Girardi Keese’s payroll and other bills. These more costs incorporated credit card expenses for Girardi and Kamon’s individual expenditures.

To conceal the theft and misappropriation of customer settlement revenue, Girardi and Kamon allegedly lied to customers, stating falsely, amongst other factors, that the settlement income had not been paid out. Girardi also allegedly falsely told shoppers that settlement proceeds could not be disbursed right up until specified purported specifications had been satisfied, such as removing purported tax obligations, acquiring supposedly essential authorizations from judges, and gratifying health care liens and other debts.

Girardi and Kamon allegedly also sent lulling payments to purchasers, falsely representing that the payments have been “advances” on purportedly however-to-be-acquired settlement proceeds that, in fact, had previously been deposited in Girardi Keese accounts, or were “interest payments” on the settlement funds that purportedly could not be paid out to the clientele until eventually the fabricated needs had been satisfied.

For example, in July 2019, Girardi negotiated a $17.5 million settlement of a lawsuit related to injuries sustained in a car accident by two clientele and their child, who was paralyzed in the crash. The settlement agreement specified that the child’s portion of the settlement funds would be placed in a believe in and an annuity to be managed by a 3rd social gathering, neither of which could be accessed by Girardi and Kamon.

The first installment of the settlement payment – $4 million – was transferred to a bank account that Girardi and Kamon managed. Prior to that deposit, Girardi and Kamon allegedly transferred $1.45 million as a purported “advance” from the clients’ settlement funds. The indictment alleges that, in reality, this was money that came from diverse Girardi Keese clients. Girardi and Kamon then allegedly used the cash to spend for the legislation firm’s operating expenditures unrelated to the auto accident litigation.

On July 1, 2019, Girardi and Kamon allegedly prompted a $2.5 million look at that mostly was comprised of the automobile accident clients’ settlement income to be issued to a distinct customer above 50 % of whose $53 million settlement Girardi and Kamon experienced misappropriated decades previously.

In August 2019, a even more payment of roughly $5,119,449 was deposited into a Girardi-managed bank account. To lull the target purchasers and avoid them from identifying that their settlement revenue experienced been misappropriated, Girardi and Kamon allegedly delivered incremental lulling payments that comprised only a portion of what the clientele have been owed.

Girardi also allegedly lied to the shoppers, telling them that the remaining settlement resources could only be paid out soon after health care liens had been pleased, court docket proceedings experienced concluded and Girardi had flown to Washington, D.C., to meet with authorities officers to take away the settlement’s tax liability. In point, all of this details was bogus and Girardi experienced embezzled their settlement cash, the indictment alleges.

In a independent make a difference, on January 19, Kamon was billed by using info with wire fraud for allegedly embezzling funds in Girardi Keese’s custody and command and using them for his personal charges, which include for renovations on Kamon’s personal residences in Palos Verdes and Encino, travel, shopping and escort solutions. Trial in that issue is scheduled for March 14.

An indictment is made up of allegations that a defendant has fully commited a criminal offense. Each defendant is presumed harmless until finally and unless of course proven responsible over and above a acceptable doubt.

IRS Criminal Investigation and the FBI are investigating this make any difference. The Office of the United States Trustee is offering support.

Assistant United States Lawyers Scott Paetty and Ali Moghaddas of the Main Frauds Part are prosecuting this case.