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‘Real Housewives’ star Erika Jayne accused in scheme to embezzle from Lion Air settlements

A Chicago law firm is accusing Erika Jayne and her husband of leading “opulent” and “notoriously lavish lifestyles,” pointing to $40,000 per month she reportedly spends on her “look.”

2019 E! People’s Choice Awards - Arrivals
Erika Jayne attends the 2019 E! People’s Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on November 10, 2019 in Santa Monica, California.
Getty

A high-profile Chicago law firm accused a “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star and her husband in a federal lawsuit Wednesday of a scheme to embezzle money from settlements related to the crash of Lion Air Flight 610.

The new lawsuit from Edelson PC names Erika Girardi, also known as Erika Jayne, as a defendant along with husband Thomas Girardi, the law firm Girardi Keese and others. It alleges that Thomas Girardi embezzled the money to keep up the couple’s celebrity status and to “project a public image of obscene wealth at all times, and at whatever the cost.”

Later Wednesday, Edelson also sought a contempt finding against Girardi Keese in a related case in Chicago, presided over by U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin.

Calls and emails seeking comment from Girardi Keese and representatives of Thomas and Erika Girardi were not immediately returned Wednesday.

The new allegations revolve around the related case in Durkin’s court, which stems from the October 2018 crash of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after it left Jakarta, Indonesia. The new lawsuit said Boeing reached individual settlements with clients and families represented by Girardi Keese and Edelson, with the primary terms reached early in 2020.

The lawsuit outlines multiple attempts by Edelson to find out whether the clients had been paid, allegedly resulting in mixed answers. It also quotes two voicemail messages from Thomas Girardi and links to audio of the voicemails.

“We’re doing good on this thing, getting things squared away and sh—,” Girardi allegedly said in one. “Don’t be mean to me, be nice to me. I’m doing good. It was because of me that we got this by the way. … I’ll be in touch, don’t worry about everything, we’re friends, things are going to work out good.”

In the second voicemail message, Girardi allegedly said, “We screwed up here a little bit. … We had three different air crashes and they got a little screwed up. I’ll have everything worked out by Thursday. I’m so sorry, this never happened before, anyway, everything will be smoothed over on Thursday.”

The lawsuit accuses Girardi and his wife of leading “opulent” and “notoriously lavish lifestyles,” pointing to $40,000 per month Erika Girardi reportedly spends on her “look” and Thomas Girardi’s daily standing reservation and exclusive table at Morton’s The Steakhouse in Los Angeles.

“Erika even performs a song called ‘Exxpen$ive,’ featuring the hook ‘it’s expensive to be me,’” the lawsuit notes.

It claims the couple is “facing increasing pressure to actually pay down their debts” and alleges their publicly filed divorce “is a sham proceeding” designed to shield assets from creditors. It also says “Girardi and Jayne siphoned significant sums of money from lenders and clients” and moved it out of the Girardi Keese bank accounts “for personal use.”

The lawsuit asks a judge to create a trust to first benefit Lion Air clients before paying money owed to Edelson. In the lawsuit, Edelson wrote that it “will not accept any attorneys’ fees for its work” in the Lion Air litigation until “each and every relevant client has first been paid in full.”