Stylists were at work creating crystal-laden, feathery bodysuits and bedazzled gold lamé bustiers in early 2017 when Secret Service agents in riot gear burst into the Hollywood studio of preeminent costume designer Marco Marco in early 2017 with warrants to search the premises.
The raid targeted designers Christopher Psaila and partner Marco Morante, the Emmy-winning duo behind costumes for HBO’s We’re Here; RuPaul’s Drag Race; and outfits worn by Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and other colorfully adorned superstars, according to federal court records.
Now, after onetime powerhouse L.A. lawyer Tom Girardi was indicted in two states this week, questions are being raised about the reason this raid took place in the first place and why Psaila was essentially ruined because of it. That’s because the investigation had been sparked by singer Erika Jayne, one of Marco Marco’s best customers, who used the sparkly spectacular designers long before she appeared as one of the wealth-aggrandizing women on The Real House Wives of Beverly Hills. Jayne had accused the designer of over-billing her for costumes, right around the time the financial house of cards built by her now-estranged husband was beginning to collapse.
What the designers didn’t know as the devastating ordeal unfolded was that Jayne had called in a favor with a friend of her husband, Lorenzo Robert Savage III, the special agent in charge of the Secret Service Los Angeles Field Office, complaining that she had been bilked. In an unusual move, which was first reported by the L.A. Times this week, Savage assigned the complaint to Secret Service agents.
According to a federal indictment, Jayne told the agents that she had given the company access to her American Express credit card for custom costumes she wore during her singing appearances; she didn’t keep or review invoices, she said. The design duo “knowingly and with the intent to defraud, caused charges to be made on victim E.G.’s AmEx credit card…without victim E.G.’s authorization,” the indictment states.
Psaila denied the charges to authorities but by the time he went before a judge, the damage was done. His brother, Jonathan Psaila, and his husband, David Lewis, each put up $50,000 to bail him out of federal detention; he was remanded to the state of California, except for a brief vacation he had planned to Maine that August. Psaila had to surrender his passport and submit to drug testing.
Months later, according to court records, his brother suddenly died—just one of a series of tragedies the designer faced as his company was thrust into chaos and faced the possibility of years in federal prison as the charges loomed over him for five years. The government sought multiple continuances in the case as they struggled to gather evidence, which, prosecutors were forced to admit, was lacking.
Amid this lengthy process, in 2018 Agent Savage retired. Two years prior to this, Girardi had represented him in a case against a car manufacturer that raised eyebrows with a federal judge. After a gamble on gaining a bigger settlement failed, Girardi personally paid Savage $7500—the amount the car company had agreed to pay before they tried up their payout. The same month that cash payment was made to the special agent, he arranged for agents in his department to meet with Girardi’s wife about her excuse for a massive AmEx bill.
Psaila got the news that his case was abruptly being dismissed “without prejudice” on September 28, 2021. The $50,000 his husband put up for bail was returned and the strict conditions of his release were lifted, court records show.
By that point, Jayne was estranged from Girardi and had filed for divorce as the couple was besieged with allegations that went well beyond the accusations the reality TV star had leveled at Psaila. A lawsuit filed in Chicago claimed the couple had embezzled settlement funds obtained in connection with the 2018 Lion Air crash that killed 189 people; according to prosecutors, this was done in order to fund the couple’s “outrageous lifestyles … in the glitz-and-glam world of Hollywood and Beverly Hills.”
Girardi Keese, his law firm, soon collapsed as the once-towering legal man’s reputation was destroyed. But his problems were steadily getting worse. Federal agents who were digging into Girardi Keese’s financials with the same zeal they dug through Psaila’s personal income would find that from “2010 to December 2020,” the lawyer and the CFO of the firm, “fraudulently obtained more than $15 million that belonged to Girardi Keese clients.”
Both men were formerly indicted on Feb. 2. The many clients they are accused of ripping off include a child paralyzed in a car crash and a man severely burned in a work explosion. Kamon, prosecutors say, had a separate side hustle stealing from the firm to pay for escorts and luxury cars.
“Mr. Girardi and Mr. Kamon stand accused of engaging in a widespread scheme to steal from their clients and lie to them to cover up the fraud,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “In doing so, they allegedly preyed on the very people who trusted and relied upon them the most—their clients.”
Girardi has since been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia. At his first federal court appearance, the frail 83-year-old pleaded not guilty and was ordered to undergo a mental competency evaluation.
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