As Thomas is accused of funneling over $1 million to a California State Bar employee and his wife, and of maintaining a number of other inappropriate relationships with agency members, attorney Ronald Richards has offered an update on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star’s appeal, noting that she failed to mention that the earrings she gave weren’t the $750,000 ones expected.
“Here is Erika Girardi’s response brief trying to address the mootness issue of her appeal on the earrings. She argues she will only seek monetary damages against the Estate and there is $18m in cash for her to go after,” Ronald wrote in his March 13 post on Twitter. “She doesn’t address she turned over a different pair than on the invoice, why she didn’t move to stop the sale, or why the buyer’s rights are not impaired who is not a party to the appeal.”
“Erika’s brief is a carefully drafted tap dance hoping the judge doesn’t dismiss her appeal. The Trustee gets one last reply,” Ronald concluded.
In other RHOBH news, the Los Angeles Times shared a shocking report with readers on March 10 that detailed Thomas’ assumed legal corruption, spotlighting the relationships he had with numerous members of the State Bar of California.
According to the report, Thomas funneled over $1 million to California bar investigator Tom Layton and his wife, Rose Layton, a USC accounting professor, including $600,000 in payments, and he gave the couple access to a credit card funded by his now-defunct law firm, Girardi Keese. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
After a 16-month investigation, which included the review of over 950,000 documents and interviews with over 70 witnesses, Halpern May Ybarra Gelberg LLP, the law firm hired by the State Bar’s governing board, learned Thomas had an “extensive network of connections at all levels” of the bar. And, because of these connections, the many complaints made against him were often dead on arrival or ultimately closed.
In addition, when two prosecutors representing the bar attempted to take action against Thomas, they were mysteriously fired by executives with ties to Thomas.
“The magnitude and duration of the transgressions reveal persistent institutional failure and a shocking past culture of unethical and unacceptable behavior,” Ruben Duran, chair of the State Bar’s board of trustees, said in a statement.
Throughout his years-long relationship with the Laytons, Thomas reportedly offered free legal representation to the couple when they sued a contractor, and two of their children, one of which Thomas was the godfather of, worked for Thomas at his firm. In addition, the Laytons spent a yearly average of $45,000 on their Girardi Keese-funded American Express. And the firm made payments for a $150,000 loan guaranteed to them by Thomas for years and leased them three vehicles, including two BMWs and a Cadillac Escalade.
And while Rose told investigators the payments she received from Thomas, which dated back to 2002, were “for unspecified services ‘related to the financial aspects of a case,’” according to the report, she had no documentation to back her claim.
Ultimately, Tom Layton was fired by the State Bar in 2015. But after suing the agency for wrongful termination, he was awarded a $400,000 settlement.
The State Bar’s general counsel, Ellin Davtyan, could not confirm whether or not any of the findings of the report had been taken to law enforcement for a future criminal investigation but said the agency “will continue to take appropriate actions in response to the evidence presented.”
Other State Bar employees and members of the agency’s governing board also received gifts and other perks from Thomas, including State Bar prosecutor Murray Greenberg, who was treated to meals at Morton’s, invited to parties, and given tickets to Adele and Santana concerts, and former bar president, Luis Rodriguez, who traveled with Thomas on his plane twice.
“Another witness reported seeing Rodriguez at Girardi’s table at Morton’s, during which time Rodriguez and Girardi discussed Rodriguez possibly serving as the Public Defender,” the report stated.
None of those accused of having inappropriate relationships with Thomas are currently employed by the bar.