(CBrief) – A former lawyer and a major donor to the Democratic Party who also held a fundraiser for President Joe Biden has been indicted on multiple federal charges, including embezzling money from clients.
According to a Justice Department press release, Tom Girardi, 83, was indicted by federal grand juries in two states for allegedly embezzling more than $18 million from clients. The department noted that he was charged in Los Angeles with five counts of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Prosecutors said that the charges “were part of an indictment accusing him of embezzling more than $15 million from clients and using the funds to cover his law firm’s payroll and pay his personal expenses,” Fox News reported.
“The case also includes charges against Christopher Kamon, the former chief financial officer of Girardi’s LA-based law firm, Girardi Keese, indicating they ‘devised, participated in, and executed a scheme to defraud victim clients’ until the firm collapsed in late 2020,” Fox News noting further, adding:
In Chicago, meanwhile, Girardi, his son-in-law David Lira, and Kamon were charged with eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of contempt of court. Prosecutors allege the trio stole more than $3 million in settlement funds meant for family members of those who died in a Boeing plane crash off the coast of Indonesia.
Wednesday’s indictments mark the latest chapter in the remarkable downfall of Girardi, who was one of the most prominent attorneys in LA before being disbarred in disgrace in California last year.
For years, Girardi was a fixture in Democratic circles, forging close ties with several powerful party figures at all levels of government. They included presidents, presidential candidates, members of Congress, governors, and even mayors, mostly by providing major cash to their campaigns and via fundraisers.
The indicted former lawyer, his employees, and relatives of his combined gave $7.5 million in contributions to candidates and political action committees for everything from city council races to presidential campaigns, a 2020 analysis by the Los Angeles Times found. The bulk of those funds went to Democratic candidates including Biden, for whom Girardi hosted a glamorous fundraiser in L.A. during the 2020 election cycle.
VP Biden's third and final fundraiser in LA this week just ended at the Jonathan Club downtown. It was hosted by trial lawyer Tom Girardi, better known to some as the husband of @erikajayne.
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) May 9, 2019
“In addition to Biden, Girardi has given tens of thousands of dollars each to the likes of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and a host of other elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels,” Fox News reported. “California Gov. Gavin Newsom received a total of $87,600 from Girardi for his 2018 gubernatorial campaign and a total of $8,500 for his 2014 lieutenant governor campaign, campaign finance records show.”
For the past decade, the indicted attorney and his estranged wife, Erika Jayne of reality TV show “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” shelled out more than $2 million to the Democratic Party as well as candidates individually, election records show — even as he was defaulting on high-interest loans and having to liquidate his stock holdings.
Beforehand, however, his generous giving and celebrity status, as well as being a high-powered lawyer, ensured him access to top Democrats in California and in Washington, D.C., Fox News noted.
“However, amid worsening legal issues, Girardi’s lavish lifestyle steadily came crashing down, culminating with Wednesday’s indictments,” the outlet’s report continued. “Beyond losing his political influence, Girardi is also in the process of divorce from Jayne, who filed for the separation in 2020 after 21 years in marriage. The two had appeared on Jayne’s reality show together.”
Meanwhile, the FBI conducted a search of President Biden’s Rehoboth Beach, Del., home on Wednesday and reportedly found no documents with classified markings as part of an ongoing investigation.
“Bob Bauer, Biden’s attorney, did say the FBI took with them handwritten notes and some materials for further review. The search took three-and-a-half hours,” CNN reported.
“Bauer said that like last month’s search of Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, agents ‘took for further review some materials and handwritten notes that appear to relate to his time as Vice President.’ Bauer confirmed earlier in the morning that investigators were searching the home. The search was planned and had the ‘full support and cooperation’ of Biden, Bauer said,” the outlet added.