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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’ personalized harm law firm Thomas Vincent Girardi has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly embezzling a lot more than $15 million from a number of of his authorized purchasers, the Justice Department declared currently.

Girardi, 83, of Seal Seashore, who owned the downtown Los Angeles-dependent Girardi Keese regulation agency, is charged with 5 counts of wire fraud, a crime that carries a statutory utmost sentence of 20 many years in federal prison.

Girardi, a as soon as-potent determine in California’s legal community until finally creditors forced his law agency into personal bankruptcy in December 2020, is predicted to seem on Monday, February 6 at the United States District Court for arraignment. The State Bar of California disbarred Girardi in July 2022.

Also billed in the indictment unsealed now is Christopher Kazuo Kamon, 49, formerly 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 remains in federal custody.

Kamon was the controller and chief economic officer of Girardi Keese from 2004 till December 2020. In this purpose, Kamon oversaw the regulation firm’s financial affairs, supervised its accounting section, and oversaw paying out the firm’s charges.

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

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

“Mr. Girardi and Mr. Kamon allegedly designed a mirage about numerous a long time in get to disguise the truth that they had been robbing Girardi Keese clientele of big sums of money” explained Amir Ehsaei, the Performing Assistant Director in Cost of the FBI’s Los Angeles Industry Place of work. “The defendants exploited the hardships endured by their clients and took advantage of their unfamiliarity with the authorized method whilst they denied victims what was rightfully because of to them in order to fund their lavish existence.” 

“Thomas Vincent Girardi must have been a pillar to our neighborhood. As a substitute, he is accused of producing an elaborate plan to mislead his customers, victimizing them for a next time,” explained Distinctive Agent in Cost Tyler Hatcher of the IRS Criminal Investigation’s Los Angeles Subject Business office. “Attorneys are place in a position of have faith in when they signify us through some of our most hard occasions. Mistrust in the lawful career grows when customers can’t have confidence in their lawyers to shell out them the settlements intended to make them full. IRS Prison Investigation, along with federal prosecutors and our legislation enforcement partners, will go on to search for to keep the authorized profession genuine.”

In furtherance of their alleged scheme to defraud, Girardi negotiated settlements on behalf of customers, but then allegedly concealed the settlement’s accurate conditions 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 attorney belief accounts to which both equally adult men experienced obtain. Girardi and Kamon then embezzled and misappropriated settlement funds from these accounts for poor functions, which include spending other Girardi Keese clientele whose settlement cash experienced formerly been misappropriated and paying Girardi Keese’s payroll and other expenses. These additional bills provided credit card expenditures for Girardi and Kamon’s individual charges.

To conceal the theft and misappropriation of client settlement cash, Girardi and Kamon allegedly lied to clients, stating falsely, among the other issues, that the settlement money had not been paid. Girardi also allegedly falsely told consumers that settlement proceeds could not be disbursed right until certain purported demands experienced been met, these types of as getting rid of purported tax obligations, getting supposedly required authorizations from judges, and fulfilling professional medical liens and other money owed.

Girardi and Kamon allegedly also despatched lulling payments to consumers, falsely representing that the payments were being “advances” on purportedly but-to-be-been given settlement proceeds that, in actuality, experienced already been deposited in Girardi Keese accounts, or were being “interest payments” on the settlement revenue that purportedly could not be paid to the clientele until finally the fabricated requirements had been fulfilled.

For example, in July 2019, Girardi negotiated a $17.5 million settlement of a lawsuit relevant to accidents sustained in a car incident by two purchasers and their boy or girl, who was paralyzed in the crash. The settlement settlement specified that the child’s part of the settlement dollars would be positioned in a have confidence in and an annuity to be controlled by a 3rd social gathering, neither of which could be accessed by Girardi and Kamon.

The 1st installment of the settlement payment – $4 million – was transferred to a lender 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 income that came from different Girardi Keese consumers. Girardi and Kamon then allegedly utilised the resources to pay out for the law firm’s operating charges unrelated to the automobile accident litigation.

On July 1, 2019, Girardi and Kamon allegedly triggered a $2.5 million check that largely was comprised of the auto accident clients’ settlement income to be issued to a different shopper over 50 {0b5b04b8d3ad800b67772b3dcc20e35ebfd293e6e83c1a657928cfb52b561f97} of whose $53 million settlement Girardi and Kamon had misappropriated several years earlier.

In August 2019, a additional payment of approximately $5,119,449 was deposited into a Girardi-managed financial institution account. To lull the sufferer clientele and protect against them from getting that their settlement cash experienced been misappropriated, Girardi and Kamon allegedly supplied incremental lulling payments that comprised only a portion of what the purchasers have been owed.

Girardi also allegedly lied to the purchasers, telling them that the remaining settlement funds could only be paid out soon after health care liens had been content, court docket proceedings had concluded and Girardi had flown to Washington, D.C., to meet with govt officials to get rid of the settlement’s tax legal responsibility. In truth, all of this data was wrong and Girardi had embezzled their settlement income, the indictment alleges.

In a different issue, on January 19, Kamon was charged by means of facts with wire fraud for allegedly embezzling funds in Girardi Keese’s custody and regulate and making use of them for his individual bills, together with for renovations on Kamon’s personalized residences in Palos Verdes and Encino, journey, purchasing and escort expert services. Demo in that matter is scheduled for March 14.

An indictment consists of allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Just about every defendant is presumed innocent right up until and unless of course tested guilty past a reasonable question.

IRS Felony Investigation and the FBI are investigating this subject. The Office of the United States Trustee is furnishing guidance.

Assistant United States Attorneys Scott Paetty and Ali Moghaddas of the Major Frauds Area are prosecuting this case.