Girardi Keese CFO pleads not guilty in Chicago embezzlement case

The Stow family attorney Thomas Girardi is interviewed before his client San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow arrives at a Los Angeles Court the day before closing arguments in a civil trial in a lawsuit brought by Stow against former Los Angeles Dodgers o
The Stow family attorney Thomas Girardi. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Feb 9 (Reuters) - Christopher Kamon, the former chief financial officer of defunct law firm Girardi Keese, on Thursday pleaded not guilty to charges in Chicago federal court that he misappropriated more than $3 million in client funds that were owed to the families of victims of a 2018 airline crash.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cummings denied bail for Kamon, 43. Kamon's lawyers declined to comment.

Kamon is already in federal custody on wire fraud charges in a separate criminal case for allegedly embezzling $10 million from Girardi Keese, which was run by now-disbarred California attorney Tom Girardi before it collapsed in late 2020. Kamon has also pleaded not guilty in that case.

His arraignment on Thursday stems from charges filed last week accusing him, Girardi, and David Lira, Girardi's son-in-law who also worked at the firm, of eight counts of wire fraud and four counts of criminal contempt of court.

Corey Rubenstein, a Chicago assistant U.S. attorney, said at the arraignment that Kamon faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on all wire fraud counts. There are no maximum sentences for the contempt of court charges, he said.

Chicago prosecutors said Girardi, Kamon and Lira took client funds owed to families of the victims of the 2018 Boeing 737 MAX Lion Air Flight 610 crash in Indonesia. The crash killed all 189 onboard.

Lira is set to be arraigned on Friday, while Girardi will be arraigned on March 3. Damon Cheronis, an attorney representing Lira, has said his client is innocent and will plead not guilty.

Attorneys for Girardi have not yet appeared in the Chicago case. On Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Stevenson in Los Angeles entered a not guilty plea for Girardi on separate federal charges for allegedly embezzling $15 million from his law firm's clients over a nine-year period.

Kamon, who was also charged with five counts of embezzlement with Girardi in that case, also pleaded not guilty. Stevenson ordered his detention to continue, finding him to be a flight risk. Girardi's bail was set at $250,000.

Girardi's Los Angeles public defenders said on Wednesday that a California judge had determined nearly two years ago that Girardi was unable to care for himself or his finances due to "a major neurocognitive disorder." A psychiatrist said Girardi suffers from Alzheimer's disease.

The case is USA v. Girardi, et al., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 1:23-cr-00054

For USA: Corey Rubenstein and Emily Vermylen, of the U.S. attorney's office

For Thomas Girardi: Unknown

For Christopher Kamon: Allen Lanstra, Jack DiCanio, Matthew Tako and William Ridgway, of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

For David Lira: Damon Cheronis and Ryan Levitt, of Cheronis, Parente & Levitt

Read More:

Lawyer Tom Girardi to face competency review after not guilty plea

California lawyer Tom Girardi charged with stealing client funds

Prosecutors warn ex-Girardi Keese CFO could flee U.S. with millions missing

Reporting by David Thomas

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.