Company CFO Tom Girardi embezzled $10 million, prosecutors say

The CFO of Tom Girardi’s law firm embezzled at least $10 million from the firm’s bank accounts and used stolen funds to renovate his Los Angeles home, buy a Caribbean mansion and cover for an escort of gifts, including a $120,000 purse, a federal prosecutor said in court Thursday.

Government lawyers disclosed allegations against Girardi Keese’s former chief financial officer, Christopher Kamon, during a detention hearing in US District Court in Maryland. The 49-year-old was arrested last week on a wire fraud charge filed by Los Angeles prosecutors as he arrived at a Maryland airport on a flight from the Bahamas.

How Kamon played a role in the corruption within Girardi’s company is a lingering mystery. Kamon worked at the company for 20 years and had intimate knowledge of the money flowing through his accounts from multimillion-dollar legal settlements, but repeatedly invoked his right not to incriminate himself. when pressured to provide information in connection with legal proceedings.

During the hearing Thursday, Asst. American Atty. Colleen McGuinn said Kamon had been running her own “side fraud” for years, apart from a “bigger theft scheme” that took place at Girardi Keese’s house. This separate criminal operation is still under active investigation, she said. It involves losses of around $100 million in client money and several possible “co-initiators”, including lawyers, she said.

It was unclear whether those in the government’s crosshairs included Girardi. The 83-year-old, who owned the business and, along with Kamon, controlled his bank accounts, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year and is in legal custody.

With money stolen from Girardi Keese, the prosecutor said, Kamon lived well beyond his $350,000 salary. The stolen funds helped finance a 13-month renovation on one of his five residences and enabled him to pay $20,000 a month to an unidentified woman he met on an escort website, a McGuinn said. He took her on an expensive vacation using stolen money and gave her gifts, including the expensive handbag, the prosecutor said.

“This is not a Robin Hood-type robbery,” McGuinn said in the downtown Baltimore courtroom of Kamon’s alleged conduct. “It’s purely greed and a lavish lifestyle.”

After hearing a lengthy description of the evidence against Kamon, U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew J. Maddox ordered him to remain in federal custody and be transferred to California to face the wire fraud charge.

The judge noted that Kamon faced a very long sentence if convicted, demonstrated “unreliability” and had already taken steps to build a life for himself in the Bahamas. “I think if you knew about the arrest warrant, your return would have been unlikely,” Maddox said.

The precise mechanism of Kamon’s alleged embezzlement scheme and the identity of those involved were unclear. Several filings in the case remain sealed.

At least some of the embezzlement involved kickbacks from lawyers, the prosecutor said. Kamon issued checks for thousands of dollars to lawyers and others who then transferred the money to him in cash.

McGuinn, who was joined in court by an Internal Revenue Service special agent, said the alleged embezzlement amounted to at least $10 million and federal investigators were continuing to try to track down his assets. .

After Girardi Keese collapsed in 2020, Kamon sold or listed properties he owned in Rancho Palos Verdes, Encino, Fresno County and Nevada for sale. In court, McGuinn said Kamon had recently transferred $2.2 million to a law firm in the Bahamas to purchase a residence there.

Citing overseas residency and the recent liquidation of assets, McGuinn argued that Kamon was a flight risk who could not be trusted on bail. Additionally, McGuinn said the sustained embezzlement scheme cast doubt on the origins of any bail money.

Any promise “of monetary obligation is paved with dirty money,” McGuinn said.

Defense attorney Jessie K. Liu dismissed the idea that her client was at risk of fleeing and said that in recent months he had traveled back and forth between the United States and the Bahamas several times. She noted that Kamon was arrested while returning to Maryland to visit family. While the prosecutor argued Kamon purchased property in the Bahamas in order to gain permanent residency — and thus complicate potential efforts to extradite him — Liu pointed out that the country still has an extradition treaty with states. -United.

“If Mr. Kamon was trying to flee,” Liu said, “he did a very bad job.”

Hamilton reported from Baltimore and Ryan from Los Angeles.


Los Angeles Times

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