According to The Los Angeles Times, a federal prosecutor claimed in court that the CFO of the law firm of Tom Girardi (the estranged husband of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Erika Jayne) embezzled $10 million from the firm’s bank accounts.
It is alleged that Christopher Kamon, 49, used the stolen money to buy a Caribbean mansion, renovate a house in Los Angeles, and provide an escort with gifts and a monthly stipend. One of the gifts allegedly included a purse valued at $120,000.
The attorneys shared these allegations against Christopher in U.S. District Court at a detention hearing in Maryland. The former Girardi Keese CFO was arrested after arriving at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport on a charge of wire fraud, which was filed by the Los Angeles prosecutors. Christopher was flying in from the Bahamas.
Christopher worked for Girardi Keese for two decades, though his alleged role in the firm’s corruption has remained a mystery. As reported by the outlet, his position as CFO provided him with knowledge of the money flowing through the accounts. After the firm’s downfall, Christopher repeatedly used his right against self-incrimination as he was asked to give information via court proceedings.
In the hearing on Thursday, Colleen McGuinn, assistant U.S. attorney, suggested Christopher ran a “side fraud” on his own, which was separate from the “larger theft scheme” at the firm. The separate operation is still an active investigation, Colleen alleged. It purportedly includes about $100 million in losses of client funds and possibly “co-schemers,” which may include lawyers and Christopher.
It is unknown if Tom ties into this. Tom himself has been accused of embezzling millions from former clients.
The prosecutor said Christopher lived well outside his means, which was a $350,000 yearly income. The stolen money allegedly helped support a home remodel that lasted 13 months, and it gave him the means to give $20,000 each month to a woman who is unidentified, who he allegedly met on an escort site. The attorney claims Christopher took the woman on pricey trips with the stolen funds and would shower her with costly gifts.
“This is not a Robin Hood-type of theft,” said Colleen. “This is purely greed and a lavish lifestyle.”
After the evidence was presented, U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew J. Maddox issued that Christopher stay in federal custody, and transfer to the state of California in order to face the charge.
Judge Maddox said Christopher will face a long sentence if he is convicted, and he showed “a lack of trustworthiness” since he had taken steps to create a life for himself in the Bahamas. “I believe that if you did know about the arrest warrant, your return would have been unlikely,” said the judge.
The mechanism for his alleged embezzlement, as well as the names of other people involved, are still unknown. Certain filings related to the case are sealed. The prosecutor indicated that some instances of the embezzlement included kickbacks from attorneys. Christopher allegedly issued thousands of dollars worth of checks to lawyers and other people who transferred the funds in cash to him.
Eventually, in court, an IRS special agent claimed Christopher was “responsible for the cooking of the books” at Girardi Keese. Federal agents have been trying to locate secret funds and assets.
After the firm collapsed, Christopher sold or put on the market multiple properties that he owned. According to Colleen, the former CFO unloaded them to try to liquidate assets, and his $2.2 million proceeds were wired to a Bahamas legal firm in order to buy a home there.
The unidentified woman from the alleged escort service is now a key witness. She claimed Christopher considered the idea of fleeing the U.S. and getting a name change. Colleen said the woman claimed Christopher had grown “paranoid,” was using several phones, and asked the woman to come to the Caribbean to live with him.
The woman purportedly tipped off Christopher after the FBI contacted her in August. Allegedly, after learning that fellow “co-schemers” were also contacted, he flew to the Bahamas and stayed there until Friday of last week. He had purportedly closed on a $2.4 million Bahamas home.
The prosecutor said foreigners in that country can become a permanent resident if they have a property that costs over $750,000, which would make any future attempts to detain Christopher more complex.
Colleen alleged that Christopher was therefore a flight risk, and he should not be put on bond. The prosecutor also said the embezzlement scheme complicated the source of any funds perhaps used for bail.
The promise “of monetary bond is paved with dirty money,” said Colleen.
Jessie K. Liu, the defense attorney, argued Christopher was not a flight risk and claimed he traveled back and forth from the Bahamas to the United States in the past few months. She said Christopher came back to the country to visit family, and (in any case) the Bahamas has an extradition treaty when it comes to the U.S.
“If Mr. Kamon was trying to flee,” said the defense attorney, “he did a very bad job of it.”
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