RHOBH’s Erica Jane “should go to jail” for refusing to hand over her $750,000 earrings in her husband’s bankruptcy case, a trustee said.
The Bravo star is being asked to hand over a pair of diamond earrings, now worth about $1.4 million, from her ex Tom Girardi in a lawsuit filed by his firm’s trustee Girardi Keys.
Her ex, whose health rapidly deteriorated, was forced into bankruptcy along with his law firm in 2020 as court records show creditors’ claims total more than $500 million.
Erica revealed last week that she was in financial difficulty and might have to give away her earrings to pay her millions in tax debt as another mind-boggling bill was sent to her.
But the trustee returned to the fight, filing a lengthy response late Tuesday night, arguing: “Her behavior appears to be a new crime. Her refusal now to hand over the Diamond Earrings is an appeal for which she could be held liable in damages.
“She could also be held civilly liable for the value of the diamond earrings, as well as statutory interest and punitive damages, which, after pre-judgment interest, could easily be $5.4 million.”
Court documents continued to state: “Ms Girardi, in a statement, stated that she first became aware of her husband’s embezzlement when the issue arose in this case – in November 2021.
“At that time, Mrs. Girardi was obliged to return the earrings to a trusted person. She did not, and the trustee was forced to file his petition.
“Answer of Mrs. Girardi: as time passes, she gets the fruits of theft. Not this way”.
They further cite legal codes which provide that “every person who withholds any property from the owner… knowing that the property will be stolen… shall be punished by hard labor in the county jail for not more than one year or to imprisonment. pursuant to subsection (h) of Section 1170.”
Both Erica and her ex are currently not subject to criminal investigation due to allegations of embezzlement.
Erica claims that they have no right to return the stolen property. [cash in the firm’s trust account that was wrongfully taken] since trust funds are not the property of the bankruptcy estate.
But the trustee insists, “Not true. A lawyer’s trust account is an expression of trust. A direct trust is defined as a fiduciary relationship whereby a trustee holds property for the benefit of another.
They also hit back at Erica’s claim that the statute of limitations had expired.
TRUSTEE GIVES ANSWER
The trustee insists: “Ms. Girardi’s argument about the statute of limitations is not true because it does not take into account the complexities of the cumulative settlement and the attorney/trustee’s duty to account for the beneficiaries in the payment of proceeds of the foreclosure in the context of a mass tort suit.”
The money used to buy the earrings came from settlement cash, allegedly for a group of people who “suffered from serious health problems due to their use of the drug rezulin.”
Lawyer Ronald Richards, who previously represented Chapter 7 trustee Elissa Miller and is a lender in the estate, told Kristen Bell Tattoos this week: a more specific probate code instead of a general fraud law.
“Thus, the statute of limitations expires. Erica’s statute of limitations will be denied due to a motion to dismiss. Ironically, the same law firm that was involved in the Trustee’s opinion is representing David Lear, son-in-law of Thomas Girardi. -law.
“They made the same argument based on the statute of limitations and lost in the appeals court.
“Erica Girardi will have to return the earrings to a trusted person if it is clear that they were bought with the client’s stolen money. She will not receive the fruits of the crime.
“Moreover, the Trustee takes the aggressive position that by refusing to return the fruits of the crime, she is committing the crime herself. This will, of course, start a new statute of limitations clock. Erika has nowhere to go for this petition but down the hill.”
In the declaration Erica, 50, said her business manager received another income tax notice from the California Tax Board in late May saying she owed $2.2 million in 2019 taxes.
“I am trying to figure out the basis of this tax bill with the help of my business manager, who is also an accountant,” she wrote. “I am unable to pay my FTB tax bill.
“I also do not know if the FTB is claiming any kind of hold on my assets, including diamond earrings,” the documents say.
Court documents detail that Tom bought Erica, 50, earrings as a gift around 2004 or 2005, but they were stolen about a year later.
She claims that one evening while they were having dinner, their family home was ransacked and she left the earrings in a crystal container in her bathroom.
Erica claims the earrings were stolen and were not insured, so Tom, 83, replaced them with a pair of replicas, adding: “I had no reason to doubt or question the source of the funds used to purchase the earrings.”
She explained that in late 2021, she first heard from the law firm’s bankruptcy trustee Tom Girardi Keese, who claimed the earrings were purchased with money from a trust account.
“I have always been ready to put the earrings in escrow until the final court decision is made as to who is entitled to the earrings,” continued Erica.
“In fact, based on an agreement with the Trustee, the earrings are currently stored in a safe that the Trustee has access to.
“I agree that the earrings can be kept in a safe deposit box until a final court decision is made regarding the ownership of the earrings.”