They have been accused of trying to protect themselves against a lawsuit for allegedly embezzling funds that were meant for families of the victims of the fatal 2018 Lion Air plane crash.
Divorce is a serious business and it is hard to imagine that someone would want to fake a separation. However, one celebrity couple is facing accusations of doing so for a very insidious reason.
When Erika Jayne of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fame announced last month that she and her husband, famed lawyer, Tom Girardi, of Girardi & Keese law firm (Erin Brokovich fame) are getting divorced, people were surprised. Now, the couple is facing accusations of faking their separation. The reason behind this is worse than one can imagine. They are trying to protect themselves against a lawsuit for allegedly embezzling funds that were meant for families of the victims of the fatal 2018 Lion Air plane crash, reported USA Today.
Jayne, 49, had announced that she and her attorney husband, 81, will be divorcing after their 21-year-long marriage. It was her second and his first marriage.
"After much consideration, I have decided to end my marriage to Tom Girardi," the reality star had told E! News. "This 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," the mother-of-one had said.
The couple has been married since 1999 after meeting in West Hollywood, where she worked as a waitress. The lawyer used to be a frequent visitor at a restaurant there. Jayne said in her memoir, Pretty Mess, that she gave him her phone number one night, and from there on, it was a whirlwind romance.
Jayne had announced the separation in November. Now, the couple is accused of divorcing as 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," according to legal documents obtained by USA Today. The legal documents were filed by Chicago law firm Edelson PC.
Girardi and his Los Angeles-based law firm Girardi & Keese are "locked in a downward spiral of mounting debts and dwindling funds" and the two owe "tens of million dollars to clients, lenders, co-counsel, settlement administrators and experts, to name only a few," the suit claimed. The 81-year-old is accused of stealing "a significant portion of that money, and potentially all of it" and has evaded attempts from the crash victims' families to get their portion.
He did it to underwrite "a public image of obscene wealth" for himself and his wife, as per LATimes. Girardi had been one of the attorneys who helped in a lawsuit against Boeing after the 2018 Indonesian plane crash. A Boeing 737 Max had crashed into the sea and killed 189 people because of problems with its anti-stall software.
"Tom has resorted to embezzling the proceeds of settlements that should have been directed to his clients — including ... the widows and orphans who lost loved ones in the tragic crash of Lion Air Flight 610 — in order to continue funding his and Erika’s lavish Beverly Hills lifestyles," according to the complaint.
Unfortunately, the victims had waited months for him to hand over the money, which he refused, before filing a lawsuit against him and slamming his wife as well. They had filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences. The amount Boeing paid to the families was not revealed as it is confidential but it is "substantial," according to the suit.
Jayne had said in the past that there was no prenup between them, and if one existed, her lawyer husband would have found a way out of it. "Let me tell you something, let me be very clear. I'm married to a very powerful lawyer," she admitted to Andy Cohen in 2017, as per E!News. "A prenup wouldn't stand in his way anyway...It's gonna be all Tom's way, I assure you. He'll rip that piece of paper to shreds in two seconds!"