The former chief financial officer for disbarred California lawyer Tom Girardi’s bankrupt law firm has been jailed on a federal wire fraud charge.
Christopher Kazuo Kamon, 49, appeared in federal court in Baltimore, Maryland, on Monday on a wire fraud charge filed in the Central District of California, which includes Los Angeles.
The affidavit supporting the criminal complaint is sealed, but the alleged crime occurred “on or about the date of September 16, 2020 in the county of Los Angeles in the Central District of California,” according to the complaint.
That’s before Girardi’s powerhouse plaintiff firm Girardi Keese LLP was forced into bankruptcy amid revelations of financial misconduct by Girardi that left clients in major lawsuits empty-handed as the mega lawyer and his now-estranged wife, Erika Jayne, flaunted their wealth on the reality TV show Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Asked about the charge against Kamon, Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, told Law&Crime, “I cannot comment on the matter at this time.”
A bail hearing is scheduled Thursday at 11:30 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew J. Maddox in Baltimore, who signed Kamon’s temporary detention order on Monday. Meanwhile, Kamon is being held without bond at the Chesapeake Detention Facility in Baltimore.
He’s represented by Jessie K. Liu, partner with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in Washington, D.C, who filed a notice of appearance today. She did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment from Law&Crime.
The criminal complaint was signed Saturday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Wilner in Los Angeles.
Kamon is not a licensed attorney. Instead, he’s an accountant who oversaw Girardi Keese’s finances, including the client trust accounts that the court-appointed trustee says Girardi regularly looted to pay for his extravagant lifestyle.
Jay Edelson, the former Lion Air co-counsel who first exposed Girardi, has alleged widespread misconduct within Girardi’s firm, filing a racketeering lawsuit in April that accuses firm partners David Lira, who is Girardi’s son-in-law, and Keith Griffin, of operating a criminal enterprise with Kamon and consultant George Hatcher.
The complaint said Kamon “was responsible for disappearing client money out of the firm’s trust account and funding the firm’s operating accounts.”
U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin in Chicago, who is overseeing the Lion Air crash settlements, recently declined to sanction Lira and Griffin over the missing money but appeared to call for the type of action federal prosecutors recently took against Kamon.
“It is nearly impossible to mend such a breach of trust. The best we can do is demonstrate that the legal system Girardi besmirched has the ability to rectify its errors and bring bad actors to account,” Durkin wrote in a 14-page order. “With the hearings and settlements initiated by the Edelson firm, a step has been taken in that direction.”
Last week, the California State Bar released a summary of 205 complaints lodged against Girardi since 1982, with the chairman of the bar’s board of trustees saying the agency “could have done more” to protect the public.
(Images: Jayne photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images, Girardi photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Annenberg Space for Photography)
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