LOS ANGELES — If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then Erika “Jayne” Girardi just lost a pair of pals worth $750,000.
A federal judge in Los Angeles ruled this week that the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star will have to give up pricey, massive diamond earrings that her estranged husband, Tom Girardi, bought her years ago.
The earrings were purchased in 2007 with $750,000 from a settlement Tom Girardi had reached with a pharmaceutical company on behalf of patients allegedly injured by a diabetes drug. U.S. bankruptcy Judge Barry Russell called the use of funds “a crime” at a hearing Tuesday and said the earrings should be sold and the money likely directed to cheated former clients.
“It was an embezzlement and fraud from day one,” Russell said at the hearing, later adding, “The fact is, she’s still in possession of stolen property, namely, it went directly from the account to buy the diamond earrings, and it’s stolen property.”
Erika Girardi’s lawyer, Evan Borges, had argued that too much time had passed since the purchase to allow seizure of the earrings and that more information was needed to determine whether it was wrong of her husband to use a check from the settlement account at a downtown L.A. jeweler.
“Once again, Erika is facing consequences for past actions taken by Tom Girardi and Girardi Keese. Erika did nothing wrong,” Borges told the L.A. Times.
“Where are the lawsuits against him and his enablers? I wish the bankruptcy trustees would focus on the actual aiders and abettors of Tom Girardi and Girardi Keese, and stop pummeling his ex-wife,” Borges added. “Legally, the judge’s decision raises an important issue of whether the law allows revisiting transactions of 15 years ago to take away a gift received by an innocent spouse. But that’s for a higher court to decide.”
Erika Girardi previously turned the earrings over to a trustee overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings, and they are being held in a safe deposit box pending appraisal. Borges wrote in court filings that his client was being blamed for years-old misconduct at a law firm at which she played no role, and that the earrings were “innocently received 15 years ago from her now-estranged and then-extraordinarily wealthy husband.”
Russell noted at the hearing that he had no evidence Erika knew the earrings were purchased with stolen money.
The earrings are the latest fallout from the collapse of Tom Girardi’s law firm and dissolution of his relationship with the reality-TV star. . In November 2020, Erika filed for divorce, after 21 years of marriage to Tom, who was disbarred earlier this year and diagnosed with dementia.
The law firm Girardi Keese was forced into bankruptcy in late 2020, and since then, hundreds of former clients, vendors, fellow attorneys and litigation funders have come forward and demanded payment totaling more than $400 million.
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This story was originally published July 1, 2022 10:21 AM.