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Tom Girardi’s complaints were mistreated, admits state bar

The State Bar of California admitted Thursday that its investigators had mismanaged years of complaints against the disgraced legal titan and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” actor Tom Girardi.

The astonishing public admission comes after a Times investigation published in March described how Girardi had kept his lawyer’s license intact despite more than 100 lawsuits against him and his company, many of which alleged embezzlement. The article explained how Girardi maintained a close relationship with the bar workers, offering them wine-soaked lunches at Morton’s, casino nights in Las Vegas, and private plane rides.

The board of directors of the regulatory agency said in a press release Thursday that an internal audit of the LA electrical broker’s case file “uncovered errors made in some investigations over the many decades of the law. Mr. Girardi’s career spans approximately 40 years and spans the tenure of many Chief Lawyers.

The recent audit by an external consultant “identified significant problems” in “the investigation and valuation of high-volume, high-value trust accounts,” the bar said.

The announcement was highly unusual for the bar, which rarely comments on its investigations, and is a testament to the depth with which the downfall of the wealthy and politically connected Girardi has rocked the legal community and the agency overseeing it.

The 82-year-old lawyer has seemed a steadfast force in the plaintiff bar in California and beyond for decades, winning huge judgments against drug companies and toxic polluters, including in the case immortalized in the film. “Erin Brockovich”. He also enjoyed the pop culture notoriety on “Real Housewives” alongside his wife, pop singer Erika Jayne.

Friends and peers were shocked when his well-respected business, Girardi Keese, suddenly collapsed last year. Then, evidence began to mount that he had stolen millions of settlement money from vulnerable clients – including widows, orphans, a burn victim and her family – in what a colleague said. qualified to a longtime Ponzi scheme judge.

The state bar did not say whether the specific errors discovered during the audit were related to his favors with staff. Agency spokeswoman Teresa Ruano said Alyse Lazar, a Thousand Oaks lawyer who was the supervising attorney at the bar in the 1990s, conducted the review, but Ruano said she could not not disclose specific information about the number or nature of complaints.

“The details of the audit are confidential,” Ruano said.

Trustees called on the bar “to investigate new and innovative ways to regulate and monitor attorney-client trust accounts in order to prevent embezzlement from occurring in the first place,” according to the press release.

“We must use the lessons learned to strengthen the rules, policies and procedures of the state bar to avoid reproducing the problems of the past,” said board chairman, San Francisco attorney Sean. SeLegue.

The bar is currently trying to strike Girardi off. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease this year and his brother, who is his legal guardian, told the Girardi agency that he would no longer practice law and would not consider challenging the procedure.

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