Tom Girardi, Estranged Husband of RHOBH Star Erika Girardi, Indicted on Fraud Charges

Erika Jayne, Tom Girardi
Erika Jayne, Tom Girardi

Steve Eichner/AP Erika and Tom Girardi

Tom Girardi, the estranged husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Girardi, was indicted on fraud charges for allegedly stealing from the victims' families of a 2018 plane crash.

According to court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Tom, 83, is charged with eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of criminal contempt of court by a federal grand jury in Chicago.

David R. Lira — who worked with Tom at the law firm Girardi Keese — and Christopher K. Kamon, the former head of the firm's accounting and finance department, were both charged with 12 criminal counts.

The trio is accused of stealing more than $3 million intended for relatives of victims killed in the crash of Lion Air Flight 610, the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois, said in a press release.

Tom Girardi
Tom Girardi

Business Wire/Getty Images Tom Girardi

RELATED: Tom Girardi Was Investigated for Over 200 Disciplinary Matters Before Being Disbarred: Docs

"The substantial misappropriation alleged in this indictment compounded the grief and anguish of the clients who lost loved ones in the Lion Air crash," said U.S. Attorney John R. Lausch, Jr. in a statement.  "Attorneys who violate the trust of their clients and breach a fiduciary duty that is paramount to the practice of law must be held accountable."

"The victims of this crime placed their faith in their attorneys during a time of great vulnerability," said Robert W. "Wes" Wheeler, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI added.  "Taking advantage of victims of tragedy is a despicable act, and we will continue to seek justice for anyone who takes advantage of innocent Americans in their hour of need."

Tom and Lira represented five clients who were family members of passengers killed in the 2018 plane crash. They filed lawsuits against the plane's manufacturer, Boeing Co., and settled the suits in 2020, according to the press release.

Tom, Lira, and Kamon are accused of stealing more than $3 million of the settlement funds for "improper purposes, including paying the firm's payroll and operating expenses, and funding settlements to other Girardi Keese clients."

The indictment alleges they then attempted to conceal the misappropriation to their clients by blaming the COVID-19 pandemic and "serious issues" with Boeing had delayed the allocation of the funds. The indictment notes that they also made false claims knowing that the law firm had already received the settlement funds.

Thomas Girardi
Thomas Girardi

Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Tom Girardi

RELATED: Erika Girardi's Husband Tom Moved to 'Restricted' Facility Due to 'Further Decline in His Memory Functions'

Erika filed for divorce from her estranged husband in November 2020 after 21 years of marriage as the racketeering and embezzlement allegations were rising. Allegations included both a criminal and civil suit, the latter of which named Erika as well.

Erika maintains that she was unaware of Tom's alleged criminal actions in regards to the victims of the 2018 plane crash, which resulted in his disbarment by the California Federal Court. She has not been named in any federal suits.

Though a civil battle continues, it was recently concluded in one case that the plaintiffs suing Erika for "aiding and abetting" her estranged husband in alleged fraud failed to prove she had any knowledge of the alleged crimes, which Erika took as a hopeful sign.

"Two years now down the road, we're getting some really great rulings, and I'm grateful for that," she said during the RHOBH panel in October at BravoCon 2022. "And more to go... So I'm in a much better place, and I'm grateful for that."

RELATED VIDEO: Embezzlement Suit Against Erika Girardi Dismissed in Illinois, Will Be Refiled in California

Amid his legal woes and divorce from Erika, Tom was diagnosed with dementia and late-onset Alzheimer's disease in March 2021. That July, he was moved to a nursing facility with 24-hour care.

The former attorney was placed under a temporary conservatorship managed by his younger brother in February 2021, which was made permanent that July.

RELATED: RHOBH Star Erika Girardi Files for Divorce from Tom Girardi After 21 Years

During a May appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Erika offered an update on Tom's health, telling host Andy Cohen that his condition had not improved.

"Tom lives in a memory care facility... Look, I can only say decline and further decline, it will not get better," she said, noting that Tom still often reaches out, though their phone calls "last about five seconds."

Cohen then asked Erika how aware Tom is of his legal troubles, to which Erika responded, "He thinks he's still practicing law."

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In October, Tom was moved to a "restricted memory care unit" at an assisted living facility as his health continues to deteriorate. In court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Tom's court-appointed attorney Rudy M. A. Cosio indicated that the 83-year-old was moved to the facility "due to a further decline in his memory functions."