The trustee alleged that RHOBH’s Erica Jane “should go to jail” for refusing to hand over her $750,000 earrings in her husband’s bankruptcy case.
The Bravo star has been asked to hand over a pair of diamond earrings, now worth about $1.4 million, from ex-husband Tom Gerardi in a lawsuit brought by the trustee of his company, Gerardi Keys.
Her ex-husband, whose health is rapidly deteriorating, was forced into bankruptcy with his law firm in 2020, with court records showing more than $500 million in claims from creditors.
Last week, Erica claimed she’s struggling financially and may have to hand over earrings to pay millions in taxes as she’s been sent another fun bill.
But the trustee is back in the fight, providing a lengthy response late Tuesday, claiming: “Her behavior appears to be a new offense. Her refusal now to hand over the diamond earrings is a turnaround, and she can be held liable for the damages.”
“It could also be civilly liable for the value of the diamond earrings, as well as statutory interest and punitive damages, which can easily be as high as $5.4 million with advance judgment benefit.”
Court documents continued: “Ms Girardi stated in her statement that she first learned of her husband’s embezzlement when the case in this case appeared – November 2021.
“At that time, Mrs. Girardi had an obligation to return the earrings to the trustee. She did not, and the trustee had to make her request.
“Mrs. Girardi’s response, because of the passage of time, she keeps the fruits of embezzlement. It is not so.”
They go on to cite statutory laws that state that “Anyone who withholds any property from the owner … knowing that the property will be stolen … shall be punished with imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding one year, or imprisonment pursuant to Subsection (H) of Section 1170.” .”
Erica and her ex-partner are not currently under any criminal investigation amid the embezzlement allegations.
Erica argues that they have no standing to recover stolen property [cash in the firm’s trust account that was wrongfully taken] Because trusts are not the property of a bankruptcy estate.
But the trustee insists: “This is not true. An attorney trust account is an express trust. An explicit trust is defined as a fiduciary relationship where the trustee holds property for the benefit of another person.”
They also responded to Erica’s claim that the statute of limitations had expired.
TRUSTEE BATTLES BACK
The Guardian insists: “Ms. Girardi’s statute of limitations argument misses the mark, as it fails to address the complexities of the aggregate settlement and the attorney/guardian’s duties to provide accountability to beneficiaries in disbursing proceeds from recovery in the context of a collective tort action.”
The money used to buy the earrings came from settlement money purportedly for a group of people who “suffered serious health problems due to their use of Resolin”.
Attorney Ronald Richards, who previously represented Chapter 7 testator Elisa Miller and is a creditor in the estate, told The Sun this week: “The statute of limitations for a customer stealing from a trust account is from the date of discovery. Case law applies a more specific proof code rather than fraud law. general.
“The statute of limitations is thus enforced. Erica’s statute of limitations agreement will be defeated on a motion of disapproval. Ironically, the same law firm that shared the opinion cited by the trustee represents David Lera, son of Thomas Girardi-law.
“They made the same argument on the grounds of limitation and lost in the Court of Appeal.
“Erika Girardi will have to return the earrings to the trustee as long as it is clear that they were purchased with the client’s stolen money. She cannot keep the fruits of the crime.
“Moreover, the Guardian is taking an aggressive stance that by refusing to return the fruits of crime, she is committing a crime herself. This will of course start the new statute of limitations on the clock. Erica has nowhere to go in this proposal except down the hill.”
in ad Filed last week, Erica, 50, filed a claim in late May that her business manager received another income tax notice bill from the California Franchise Tax Board that states she owes $2.2 million in taxes for 2019.
“I am in the midst of trying to figure out the basis for this tax code with the help of my business manager, who is also an accountant,” she wrote. “I don’t have the ability to pay the FTB tax bill.
“I also don’t know if the FTB claims any kind of lien over my assets, including the diamond earrings,” the documents claimed.
Court papers show that Tom bought Erika’s earrings, 50, around 2004 or 2005 as a gift, but that they were stolen about a year later.
She claims her family’s home was ransacked as they went out to dinner one evening, and the earrings were left in a crystal bowl in her bathroom.
Erica claims the earrings were stolen and uninsured, so Tom, 83, replaced them with a matching pair, adding, “I have no reason to doubt or question the source of the money used to buy the earrings.”
In late 2021, she explained, she first heard from a trustee in Tom’s bankruptcy case, Gerardi Casey, who alleged that the earrings were purchased with money from a trust account.
“At all times, I was willing to put the earrings in escrow until a final court order on who was entitled to the earrings,” Erica continued.
“In fact, based on an agreement with the trustee, the earrings are currently kept in a safe deposit box, to which the trustee has access.
“I agree that the earrings may be kept in a safe until such time as a final court decision on ownership of the earrings.”