Girardi prosecutors question Alzheimer's diagnosis as defense asks to limit evaluation

Attorney talks after reading of verdict in Bryan Stow's civil suit against Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles
Thomas Girardi. REUTERS/David McNew

(Reuters) - Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles are casting doubt on disbarred California lawyer Tom Girardi's Alzheimer's diagnosis as they wrangle over how to test his competency to stand trial for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from his law firm's clients.

Girardi's "seemingly rapid neurocognitive decline, as well as the timing of it, are unusual and require closer scrutiny," prosecutors said in a Friday court filing.

Girardi's lawyers pushed back on Monday, arguing that the 83-year-old should not be subjected to "onerous" personality testing, which the government proposed to test his truthfulness, and seeking time constraints on his questioning.

The government's proposed test includes 567 questions, which "could pose a significant hardship on Mr. Girardi and his care at the assisted living facility," his attorneys said.

Girardi was charged last month for allegedly embezzling $15 million from 2010 to 2020 from his now-defunct law firm Girardi Keese. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A Los Angeles county judge in 2021 placed Girardi into a conservatorship overseen by his brother Robert, a dentist, putting him in charge of Tom Girardi's financial and legal affairs.

The conservatorship petition was filed "mere weeks" after Girardi was accused of stealing millions of dollars in settlement funds from the families of the victims of a 2018 plane crash and had "scant detail," prosecutors said.

A March 2021 psychiatrist report declaring Tom Girardi's Alzheimer's diagnosis was also "unchallenged, and was relied on by the judge who placed Girardi into the conservatorship, prosecutors said.

Robert Girardi and lawyers for Tom Girardi did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

The case is United States v. Girardi, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 2:23-cr-00047.

For the United States: Scott Paetty and Ali Moghaddas of the U.S. Attorney's Office

For Tom Girardi: Craig Harbaugh, Georgina Wakefield and Alejandro Barrientos of the Federal Public Defenders Office

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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.