September 26, 2023

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Ex-Girardi Keese CFO spent firm money on home remodeling, escort, affidavit says

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(Reuters) – The former chief financial officer of defunct law firm Girardi Keese bought a $2.4 million home in The Bahamas in an attempt to avoid being implicated in the client fund embezzlement scandal that sunk plaintiffs attorney Tom Girardi’s legal career, according to a newly unsealed affidavit.

Prosecutors this month charged Christopher Kamon, 49, with wire fraud. He faces a maximum 20 years in prison if convicted on allegations that he spent more than $8 million of Girardi Keese’s money on extensive home remodeling, exotic sports cars and an escort.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew Maddox in Baltimore ordered Kamon to be held without bail last week. Kamon has not yet entered a plea. His lawyer, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner Jessie Liu, did not respond to a request for comment.

FBI Special Agent Elias Guerrero said in an affidavit disclosed Wednesday that Kamon would tell a Girardi Keese secretary that the firm’s operating accounts were low. Girardi would then tell Kamon to use client funds in the firm’s accounts to replenish those other operating accounts, according to Guerrero.

Kamon allegedly funneled more than $4 million of the law firm’s operating accounts — which were “almost exclusively funded with money from GK’s client trust accounts” — to pay for extensive construction on his properties, Guerrero said.

Kamon also used firm money to set up a $20,000 a month allowance for Nicole Rokita, an escort he met online, Guerrero said. He bought her a Tesla, used the firm’s American Express card to take her on lavish trips around the world, and arranged for her to receive health insurance through Girardi Keese, Guerrero said.

Rokita did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Kamon told Rokita that he was considering hiding out in the Bahamas after Girardi Keese collapsed in December 2020, saying he could get permanent residency there if he bought an expensive property, Guerrero said. He bought a $2.4 million home there last month.

Guerrero said Kamon’s alleged fraud occurred at the same time Girardi and his firm were allegedly misappropriating client trust funds. One pending lawsuit against Kamon and other former Girardi Keese employees alleges that the defunct law firm stole more than $100 million from clients, co-counsel and vendors.

A December 2020 lawsuit over missing settlement funds triggered Girardi’s fall. He and his firm were forced into bankruptcy proceedings in January 2021, and he was ultimately disbarred by the California Supreme Court earlier this year. He was placed in a conservatorship in 2021, with his legal and financial affairs overseen by his brother Robert.

Girardi has not responded to the misconduct allegations. In Chicago federal court, he has admitted he did not pay $2 million in settlement funds that were owed to the families of victims of the 2018 Lion Air crash.

Guerrero said the charge against Kamon is limited to the “separate scheme to defraud GK by fraudulently obtaining money from GK’s operating accounts.”

Read more:

Girardi law firm CFO turns to high-powered ex-D.C. prosecutor after arrest

Judge won’t sanction ex-Girardi lawyers over missing $2 mln

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