Competency Hearing Ordered for Disbarred ‘RHOBH’ Lawyer Tom Girardi

Tom Girardi—ex-hubby of reality TV curiosity Erika Jayne—must be evaluated before being tried for allegedly stealing millions from clients

A judge on Monday ordered Tom Girardi—the disbarred lawyer and former husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills personality/singer Erika Jayne—to undergo a mental competency evaluation, agreeing with the disgraced former legal eagle’s newly-appointed public defenders that the accused embezzler “may be presently suffering from mental disease or defect.”

Prosecutors didn’t object: Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Paetty told U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Stevenson they knew Girardi’s competency would be an immediate issue when they filed the indictment against him last week. Girardi is accused of embezzling more than $15 million from five clients between 2010 and 2020.

Given the 83-year-old’s tenuous competency status, the judge entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf instead of allowing him to do so himself.

Wearing a black mask, black slacks and a purple sweater over a collared shirt, Girardi arrived at the Roybal Federal Courthouse in Downtown Los Angeles at about 12:30 p.m. with his attorneys, a caretaker, and his brother, Robert Girardi, who is a court-appointed conservator. He walked slowly through a throng of media, with deputy federal defender Craig Harbaugh and his caretaker helping him up a staircase to the courthouse.

At least one longtime friend from L.A.’s legal elite was in the courtroom for the roughly 20-minute hearing: Thomas J. Nolan, a former federal prosecutor and longtime trial lawyer.

Girardi’s brother will back a $250,000 bond that Stevenson imposed. The judge determined electronic monitoring isn’t needed given Girardi’s current living situation, which court documents describe as a memory care facility.

A psychiatrist said in separate court proceedings in 2021 that Girardi has dementia and advanced Alzheimer’s disease. But other doctors will evaluate him now, and his competency will ultimately be determined by U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton. Attorneys are to consult with her to decide on a schedule for their written briefs about Girardi’s competency, and to possibly schedule a hearing.

Staton is also overseeing a separate fraud case against former Girardi financial officer Christopher Kamon, who is a co-defendant in Girardi’s indictment, but his arraignment has not yet been scheduled.

The California charges were announced the same day as prosecutors in Chicago filed a separate indictment alleging Girardi and Kamon embezzled more than $3 million from lawsuit settlements over the 2018 Lion Air plane crash in the Java Sea. Girardi’s former law partner and son-in-law from a previous marriage, David Lira, is also charged.

Before Stevenson formally appointed them Monday, Harbaugh and deputy federal defender Georgina Wakefield filed information about Girardi’s financial status that will remain sealed from public view. But his financial state is documented through his personal bankruptcy case and that of his former law firm. A court-appointed trustee has arranged the sale of many of his belongings, including his Pasadena mansion, with the proceeds meant to pay a long list of creditors claiming they are owed more than $500 million.

Girardi’s divorce from Erika Jayne has not yet been finalized.

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