A federal judge in Chicago has frozen the assets of Tom Girardi, the lawyer husband of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Jayne Girardi, on Monday, December 14, right smack in the middle of the couple's divorce plans.
Girardi and his law firm were reportedly held in civil contempt in a hearing Monday due to the fact that he was not sufficiently able to explain where $2 million owed in settlement funds to people who lost family in a 2018 plane crash went.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin told Girardi that the “simple way to cure all of this” is to pay at least four clients he said are each owed a half-million dollars, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“These are widows and orphans,” the judge chided Girardi. “Half a million dollars for any one of these families is a significant amount of money. Life changing, given the tragedy they went through.”
Girardi, who attended the hearing by telephone, let his lawyer do most of the talking. His counsel informed the judge that Girardi didn't have the $2 million to pay out, suggested that her client might possibly not understand the exact nature of the situation he is in, and also cited Girardi's expenses involved with divorcing Jayne as a reason he's not flush enough to handle his debts.
The judge, clearly not buying that, termed Girardi's actions "unconscionable." He referred Girardi and his firm to the U.S. attorney’s office, which will conduct a criminal investigation into the matter.
Per court documents filed on Wednesday, December 2, Tom is being sued by class-action firm Edelson PC for the alleged embezzlement of the funds. The suit states that he mishandled the money out of a "need to fund outrageous lifestyles for himself and his soon-to-be ex-wife Erika Jayne."
The suit went on to accuse the "soon-to-be" divorce itself as nothing more than a load of B.S. "That 'divorce' is simply a sham attempt to fraudulently protect Tom's and Erika's money from those that seek to collect on debts owed by Tom and his law firm Girardi Keese," it stated.
Also of note in the filing: Girardi's firm was described as "on the verge of financial collapse and locked in a downward spiral of mounting debts and dwindling funds." It also suggested that this is not the first time Tom has played fast and loose with money that was meant to go toward his clients' pockets.
Jayne Girardi, who has been married to Tom for 21 years, confirmed she had filed for divorce on November 3. "After much consideration, I have decided to end my marriage to Tom Girardi," she told Us Weekly. "This is not a step taken lightly or easily. I have great love and respect for Tom and for our years and the lives we built together. It is my absolute wish to proceed through this process with respect and with the privacy that both Tom and I deserve. I request others give us that privacy as well."