Tom Girardi Ruled Competent to Stand Trial, Facing 20 Years in Prison!
Disgraced ex-lawyer Tom Girardi has been declared fit to stand trial by a federal judge.
This decision opens the path for Girardi, 84, to face a jury over allegations of embezzling over $15 million from clients through a long-term fraud scheme at his law firm. The ruling, a significant moment in the case, was made official on Tuesday, with U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton filing an “order finding defendant competent to stand trial,” now under seal pending privacy considerations.
This development marks a turning point for prosecutors and Girardi’s former clients, who were concerned that his dementia diagnosis might prevent a trial and subsequent accountability. Girardi, recognized for his high-profile legal career, including work on the case featured in “Erin Brockovich,” was diagnosed with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in March 2021. This diagnosis, as outlined in a sworn affidavit by Dr. Nathan Lavid, a forensic and clinical psychiatrist, stated, “Dementia impairs his ability to understand the hearing. His emotional distress is directly related to his dementia and exacerbated by his confusion.” However, the timing of this diagnosis coincided with the escalation of Girardi’s legal troubles.
In December 2020, Girardi and his estranged wife, Erika Jayne of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, faced a lawsuit for allegedly misappropriating funds from victims of the 2018 Lion Air flight to support their extravagant lifestyle. That same month, Girardi was hospitalized for a “serious illness,” and his brother later reported his short-term memory loss.
While Jayne, 52, was eventually dismissed from the lawsuit in January 2022, she has maintained that Girardi has been experiencing significant mental decline in recent years. Girardi has been residing in a senior living facility due to his alleged inability to care for himself.
Despite these claims, a court-appointed neuropsychologist, Dr. Diana Goldstein, assessed in June that Girardi was “competent to stand trial,” prompting a legal review. Reuters reported in August that Girardi’s lawyers contested this assessment, citing evaluations from various neurologists, neuropsychologists, and lawyers asserting his dementia and lack of awareness.
The case took a dramatic turn when Girardi, in a moment of agitation, shouted an expletive at one of the federal prosecutors in court. Dr. Stacey Wood, a neuropsychologist and defense expert witness, described the outburst as “rude and inappropriate.” This incident added another layer to the complex narrative surrounding Girardi’s mental state and legal competence.
Girardi is required to face trial following his February 2023 indictment, where he is accused of misappropriating $15 million from his past clients.
The co-founder of Girardi Keese is facing five charges of wire fraud, as detailed in the indictment. Each charge carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison.