LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Hollywood costume merchant alleged in a federal lawsuit Tuesday that "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Erika Jayne and others engaged in malicious prosecution and conspiracy in violation of his constitutional rights.
Chris Psaila contends that beginning in 2014, Jayne -- the estranged wife of disgraced and disbarred lawyer Tom Girardi -- purchased numerous costumes and clothing for herself and her entourage for stage shows and appearances, many of which were used on "Real Housewives," according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Jayne allegedly authorized Psaila and designer Marco Morante to charge her credit card for purchases that the reality TV star or her assistants made using her American Express card on her husband's account, the lawsuit says.
At her initial costume fitting, Jayne allegedly dismissed Psaila's offer to send an invoice, saying it "would not be necessary," even though Psaila customarily provided his customers with invoices, the lawsuit states.
According to the suit, for about 30 months up to November 2016, Jayne never disputed a charge. Then, in late 2016, at the same time Girardi and his law firm were going bankrupt and the then-attorney was allegedly defrauding clients of tens of millions of dollars, Jayne falsely claimed more than $800,000 in fraudulent credit card charges, the complaint says.
In reality, according to Psaila, the TV actress was provided with every piece of clothing and services charged -- and the plaintiffs say they possess documented proof of all 132 transactions.
A representative for Jayne could not immediately be reached for comment.
The lawsuit further contends that Jayne and her husband allegedly used Girardi's personal and attorney-client relationship with the then-special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service's L.A. field office to "weaponize" the agency to maliciously go after Psaila.
As a result, a fraud case was brought against Psaila by the U.S. Attorney's Office -- but the case was dropped by the office in September 2021, nearly five years after it was filed, according to the suit.
Psaila alleges that while facing the federal credit card fraud charges, his business was nearly destroyed and his life was devastated. He contends he lost clients, retailers, and employees, resulting in lost profits and goodwill totaling tens of millions of dollars, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also names two former U.S. Secret Service agents and a current special agent, American Express Company, and other individuals who allegedly engaged in malicious prosecution and conspiracy against Psaila and violated his constitutional rights.
In early 2017, American Express refunded Jayne and her husband $787,117 without allowing Psaila to dispute her claims, the lawsuit says.
The plaintiffs allege that because Girardi had been charged with fraud in Los Angeles and Chicago, and he faced mounting pressure to pay for his wife's lifestyle and clothing, the couple had a compelling motive to falsely claim that Psaila had defrauded them, according to the lawsuit.