LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The first person to face criminal charges in the scandal surrounding the now-defunct Los Angeles law firm Girardi Keese pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a federal wire fraud charge.
Christopher Kamon -- the firm's former chief financial officer -- allegedly funneled more than $10 million from the firm's operating accounts for his personal use, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Kamon, 49, spent millions on home renovations, exotic cars, and "female escorts," federal prosecutors allege.
Kamon was arrested on the wire fraud charge in November at Baltimore airport after arriving on a flight from the Bahamas, where he had purchased a $2.4 million home, papers filed in Los Angeles federal court show.
He remains in federal custody after his attorneys unsuccessfully argued for his release at several hearings. If convicted, he faces up to 14 years in prison, authorities said.
A magistrate judge set a March 14 jury trial before U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton in downtown Los Angeles, but that date is expected to change.
Girardi Keese, known for representing plaintiffs against major corporations, collapsed in late 2020 after firm co-founder Tom Girardi -- who was once married to "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Erika Jayne -- was accused in a Chicago federal lawsuit of embezzling money meant for clients the firm was representing in litigation over the crash of an airliner off the coast of Indonesia.
The lawsuit -- which has been transferred to Los Angeles -- alleges Girardi, Kamon and others stole millions in settlement funds.
The 83-year-old Girardi has Alzheimer's disease and was deemed incompetent to manage his own affairs in June 2021. The following year he was disbarred.
An affidavit filed in the Kamon criminal case says Girardi wasn't aware of Kamon's alleged $10 million "side scheme."
Girardi is in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings, as is the now- shuttered Wilshire Boulevard law firm, which faces more than $500 million in claims.