The former lawyer, 82, told a Chicago federal judge on Monday, August 9, that if he is called to the stand, he will invoke his right to remain silent, Law360 reported. The September hearing is related to contempt charges stemming from the December lawsuit that accused Girardi and his firm of misappropriating funds intended for families of the victims of the Lion Air plane crash.
After the defense team conceded that $2 million in settlement funds were missing, the judge found both Girardi and his firm, Girardi Keese, in contempt and froze their assets.
In December 2020, class action firm Edelson PC alleged in court documents that Girardi and Erika, 50, embezzled the settlement funds intended for the Lion Air families. The firm also accused the former couple of announcing their divorce to protect their assets.
“While Erika publicly filed for divorce [in November 2020], on information and belief, 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 GK,” the documents claimed.
The lawsuit also alleged that Tom’s “need to fund outrageous lifestyles for himself and his soon-to-be ex-wife” was the reason for the divorce filing, claiming that the disgraced lawyer used settlement funds to “release personal guarantees, pay down loans, route the money to friends and family and satisfy other outstanding debts.”
For her part, the Pretty Mess author has denied knowing anything about Tom’s finances or the whereabouts of the allegedly missing settlement funds. In a midseason trailer for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills released last month, when the women are discussing Tom’s legal trouble, Erika says, “If he stole the money, I’d like to know where it is.”
Earlier in season 11, the former Broadway star said that she’d asked Tom to explain the Lion Air situation to her, but claimed he refused. “I kept asking. And I was continuously shut out,” she said during the July 14 episode. “I [pleaded], I begged, I tried. I pushed as hard as I could until I couldn’t push anymore.”
Erika has not been charged with any crimes, but in June, a judge ordered her to turn over all of her financial records. The following month, Tom’s conservatorship was made official after he was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year. His brother, Robert Girardi, was initially appointed his temporary conservator in February.