the law

Erika Jayne May Have to Pay Tom Girardi’s Former Clients in Embezzlement Case

Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

As the details of her split from husband Tom Girardi emerge on the current season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Erika Jayne continues to be dragged further into the disgraced lawyer’s legal troubles. A judge ruled on July 6 that three of Girardi’s former clients can pursue collections for the $11 million Girardi promised them after a settlement, according to People. Girardi is facing multiple claims of embezzlement related to his work with the law firm Girardi Keese. The new ruling lifts stays on collecting from both Girardi’s assets and the firm, which is under investigation after filing for bankruptcy in 2020 — a month after Jayne filed for divorce. She is of interest in the matter because of the reported $20 million in loans from Girardi Keese given to her businesses. The former clients seeking the money are Joseph, Jaime, and Kathleen Ruigomez, for whom Girardi won a 2013 settlement against Pacific Gas & Electric after Joseph experienced a near-fatal gas explosion on the job. Girardi allegedly promised to invest the undisclosed settlement and disburse it to the clients in monthly payments, but he stopped making these payments; the Ruigomez family say they were promised $11 million. (Joseph spoke in the recent ABC News documentary special The Housewife and The Hustler.) They are now claiming that a portion of the $20 million lent to Jayne’s businesses could have been from the $11 million they were promised by Girardi.

Jayne has not commented directly on the latest ruling, and her lawyer did not return a request for comment. Shortly after news of it broke, she posted a clip to Instagram of herself on RHOBH, saying, “The ice queen can take it.” A late-June filing in Girardi Keese’s bankruptcy proceedings claimed Jayne had “used the glam to continue to aid and abet [these] sham transactions that have been occurring with respect to large transfers of assets,” according to People, and was not turning over relevant financial documents. The special-litigation counsel in the investigation is “concerned that absent the investigation occurring rapidly, Erika may further dissipate the Debtor’s assets” by buying and selling expensive “glam” items. Responding to the motion, lawyers for Jayne claimed she “has been and remains willing to cooperate fully” in the investigation, while bashing special counsel Ronald Richards for “false and inflammatory” statements he made on social media about Jayne and Girardi, including that Jayne’s personality is not “consistent with compliance in a court setting” and comments on Girardi’s dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In a statement to People, Richards called Jayne’s motion a “Hollywood attempt to create a smoke screen to slow down our work.”

Meanwhile, July 7’s episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills saw Jayne continuing to move into her own home after filing for divorce from Girardi. When Sutton Stracke tells Jayne she seemed “happier” after leaving Girardi, Jayne replies, “I hate to say that, but it’s true.” But a clip teasing the upcoming July 14 episode of RHOBH shows Jayne dismissing the claim that her divorce was a front — a claim made in a December 2020 class-action lawsuit against Girardi and Jayne by victims of a 2018 plane crash whom Girardi represented and allegedly embezzled money from. That lawsuit, according to “Page Six,” called their divorce “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 GK.” In the teaser, Jayne calls the allegation “insane,” telling Lisa Rinna, “People want to believe that.” Later, through tears, she tells Kyle Richards of her divorce, “I could have never predicted this fucking shit.”

Erika Jayne May Have to Pay Tom Girardi’s Former Clients