LOS ANGELES – Previous plaintiffs’ personal injuries attorney Thomas Vincent Girardi has been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly embezzling more than $15 million from numerous of his legal shoppers, the Justice Division introduced these days.
Girardi, 83, of Seal Seaside, who owned the downtown Los Angeles-dependent Girardi Keese regulation agency, is billed with five counts of wire fraud, a criminal offense that carries a statutory optimum sentence of 20 a long time in federal prison.
Girardi, a after-potent figure in California’s legal local community right until lenders pressured his law business into personal bankruptcy in December 2020, is envisioned to show up 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 currently 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 criminal grievance. He stays in federal custody.
Kamon was the controller and main financial officer of Girardi Keese from 2004 right up until December 2020. In this role, Kamon oversaw the regulation firm’s money affairs, supervised its accounting division, and oversaw having to pay the firm’s bills.
The indictment alleges that, from 2010 to December 2020, Girardi and Kamon fraudulently received extra than $15 million that belonged to Girardi Keese purchasers.
“Mr. Girardi and Mr. Kamon stand accused of participating in a common scheme to steal from their consumers and lie to them to go over up the fraud,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “In performing so, they allegedly preyed on the incredibly persons who trusted and relied on them the most—their clients. Actions like the kinds alleged in the indictment carry disrepute upon the lawful career and will not be tolerated by my office.”
“Mr. Girardi and Mr. Kamon allegedly developed a mirage over several years in order to disguise the reality that they have been robbing Girardi Keese clientele of substantial sums of money” reported Amir Ehsaei, the Acting Assistant Director in Demand of the FBI’s Los Angeles Subject Business. “The defendants exploited the hardships endured by their customers and took benefit of their unfamiliarity with the authorized system though they denied victims what was rightfully owing to them in buy to fund their lavish existence.”
“Thomas Vincent Girardi ought to have been a pillar to our neighborhood. In its place, he is accused of making an elaborate scheme to mislead his consumers, victimizing them for a second time,” reported Distinctive Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher of the IRS Prison Investigation’s Los Angeles Discipline Business office. “Attorneys are set in a placement of have confidence in when they symbolize us all through some of our most complicated occasions. Distrust in the lawful job grows when purchasers just cannot believe in their lawyers to fork out them the settlements intended to make them entire. IRS Felony Investigation, along with federal prosecutors and our regulation enforcement companions, will keep on to request to preserve the authorized profession straightforward.”
In furtherance of their alleged plan to defraud, Girardi negotiated settlements on behalf of clients, but then allegedly hid the settlement’s correct conditions and lied about the disposition of the settlement proceeds.
Girardi and Kamon would allegedly lead to the settlement proceeds to be deposited in or transferred to lawyer rely on accounts to which the two men had entry. Girardi and Kamon then embezzled and misappropriated settlement resources from these accounts for improper functions, together with shelling out other Girardi Keese clients whose settlement funds had beforehand been misappropriated and paying out Girardi Keese’s payroll and other charges. These supplemental fees included credit card expenses for Girardi and Kamon’s individual expenditures.
To conceal the theft and misappropriation of consumer settlement cash, Girardi and Kamon allegedly lied to purchasers, stating falsely, among other factors, that the settlement cash experienced not been paid out. Girardi also allegedly falsely advised clientele that settlement proceeds could not be disbursed until finally sure purported prerequisites had been fulfilled, this sort of as getting rid of purported tax obligations, obtaining supposedly essential authorizations from judges, and satisfying medical liens and other debts.
Girardi and Kamon allegedly also sent lulling payments to shoppers, falsely representing that the payments were “advances” on purportedly nevertheless-to-be-received settlement proceeds that, in truth, experienced previously been deposited in Girardi Keese accounts, or were “interest payments” on the settlement income that purportedly could not be compensated to the customers until finally the fabricated demands were being satisfied.
For instance, in July 2019, Girardi negotiated a $17.5 million settlement of a lawsuit associated to accidents sustained in a car or truck accident by two shoppers and their boy or girl, who was paralyzed in the crash. The settlement settlement specified that the child’s part of the settlement funds would be positioned in a belief and an annuity to be managed by a 3rd party, neither of which could be accessed by Girardi and Kamon.
The 1st installment of the settlement payment – $4 million – was transferred to a financial institution 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 cash. The indictment alleges that, in simple fact, this was cash that came from distinctive Girardi Keese consumers. Girardi and Kamon then allegedly applied the resources to fork out for the legislation firm’s working costs unrelated to the vehicle accident litigation.
On July 1, 2019, Girardi and Kamon allegedly triggered a $2.5 million check out that mostly was comprised of the automobile incident clients’ settlement funds to be issued to a distinctive client more than half of whose $53 million settlement Girardi and Kamon experienced misappropriated years before.
In August 2019, a additional payment of roughly $5,119,449 was deposited into a Girardi-controlled bank account. To lull the victim shoppers and prevent them from discovering that their settlement money experienced been misappropriated, Girardi and Kamon allegedly provided incremental lulling payments that comprised only a portion of what the shoppers were owed.
Girardi also allegedly lied to the clients, telling them that the remaining settlement resources could only be paid right after healthcare liens had been contented, court docket proceedings had concluded and Girardi had flown to Washington, D.C., to satisfy with govt officials to take out the settlement’s tax legal responsibility. In reality, all of this info was bogus and Girardi had embezzled their settlement funds, the indictment alleges.
In a individual subject, on January 19, Kamon was charged by using information and facts with wire fraud for allegedly embezzling resources in Girardi Keese’s custody and manage and working with them for his personalized charges, including for renovations on Kamon’s private residences in Palos Verdes and Encino, travel, procuring and escort providers. Demo in that matter is scheduled for March 14.
An indictment has allegations that a defendant has fully commited a criminal offense. Just about every defendant is presumed innocent right until and unless tested responsible further than a affordable doubt.
IRS Criminal Investigation and the FBI are investigating this make any difference. The Business office of the United States Trustee is supplying aid.
Assistant United States Lawyers Scott Paetty and Ali Moghaddas of the Big Frauds Segment are prosecuting this circumstance.