Erika and Tom Girardi are being sued for allegedly embezzling money to fund their "lavish" lifestyle

By Eric Todisco
December 14, 2020 03:13 PM
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Tom Girardi, the husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Girardi, has reportedly been held in civil contempt over allegedly embezzling funds from several families who lost loved ones in a 2018 Boeing plane crash.

According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Tom, who attended the Chicago court hearing on Monday via telephone, was unable to explain to U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin where at least $2 million went from the crash settlement of Lion Air Flight 610, which departed from Jakarta, Indonesia in October 2018.

Tom, 81, and his law firm, Girardi & Keese (GK), are being held in civil contempt and have had their assets frozen by Durkin, who reportedly said during the hearing that the “simple way to cure all of this” is to pay at least four clients that are allegedly owed $500,000.

“These are widows and orphans,” Durkin said, per The Chicago Sun-Times. “Half a million dollars for any one of these families is a significant amount of money. Life-changing, given the tragedy they went through.”

Tom reportedly only spoke once via telephone during the hearing so the judge could hear his voice. When Durkin asked him what happened to the money, a lawyer representing Tom responded, "I’ve advised him to decline that.”

Tom's lawyer also told Durkin that he was not able to pay the $2 million to the clients, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

A representative for Girardi Keese has not immediately responded to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Erika Girardi and Tom Girardi
| Credit: Steve Eichner/AP

On Dec. 2, Tom and Erika, 49, were hit with an embezzlement lawsuit by law firm Edelson PC, less than a month after the Bravo star filed for divorce from her husband of 21 years on Nov. 3.

According to the documents, obtained by PEOPLE, the couple is accused of embezzling settlement funds meant to help the families of victims on Lion Air Flight 610 and using the money to fund their "lavish Beverly Hills lifestyles."

"At the heart of this deception is Defendant Girardi and his need to fund outrageous lifestyles for himself and his soon-to-be ex-wife, Erika Jayne," the documents state, claiming that protecting their finances is the reason for their recent divorce and that this incident is not "the first attempt by Tom to hide and divert assets."

"While Erika publicly filed for divorce this month, 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 suit states.

Tom and Erika Girardi
| Credit: Bravo

Last month, Erika said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE that her decision to end her marriage is "not a step taken lightly or easily."

"I have great love and respect for Tom and for our years and the lives we built together. It is my absolute wish to proceed through this process with respect and with the privacy that both Tom and I deserved," she added. "I request others give us that privacy as well."