We talked last week about Tom Girardi, his pop star-wannabe wife, and skinny dipping into the law firm’s trust fund to pay expenses. This ultimately led to the collapse of Girardi Keese. But while all that was going on, it is alleged that the CFO of Girardi Keese, Christopher Kamon, was running his own side fraud at the law firm.
Kamon was creative enough to use a variety of frauds at Girardi Keese. It is alleged that Kamon created and paid false vendors (co-conspirators) and received millions in kickbacks from them. He is believed to have paid legitimate vendors with Girardi funds to perform renovations to his personal residence, purchase expensive sports cars, and travel the world. Finally, Kamon appears to have misused at least one company credit card for personal items.
Kamon would also transfer money from the firm trust fund to operating accounts at Girardi’s request as part of a separate scheme. Consequently, Kamon’s stolen money came from both firm and client funds.
And then there was the “escort” as she’s referred to in the indictment. There’s often a salacious side to frauds like this. Meet Nicole Rokita:
“According to Rokita, she met Ramon around 2017 through an online dating website, seekingarrangements.com, which connects affluent, older men with younger women.”
Rokita wanted a sugar daddy and she found one in Kamon. He bought her clothes, jewelry, an even a Tesla. He took her on trips around the world and paid her an allowance of $20k a month. He even managed to get her added to the firm’s health insurance. Kamon directed Rokita to form a company and Girardi Keese paid that company with the payments coded as “legal marketing”. Girardi Keese paid Rokita as much as $360k for her “work”.
Rokita is important to this story because she gives us a possible glimpse into why Kamon did it. We talked last week that Tom Girardi was the only partner. He controlled the firm. When Rokita and Kamon were together, Kamon put everything on his corporate American Express card. “According to Rokita, when asked how KAMON could charge extensive personal expenses on GK’s AMEX, KAMON claimed that because he could not be a partner at GK, but did so much work for the firm, Girardi allowed him to use the GK AMEX on personal expenses.”
Aha! We have a motive! It is the classic case of feeling underappreciated and therefore under-compensated. It’s the feeling that “If I’m not going to be paid what I’m worth, I’ll take what I’m worth!”. Kamon knew he couldn’t be a partner so figured out how to compensate himself like a partner. Ultimately Kamon is accused of taking as much as $10 million via his multiple schemes.
We’ve talked about tone at the top before. We’ve talked about fraud at the top before. It’s the most expensive type of fraud by a large margin. I’m not sure how corrupt you have to be to have fraud within a fraud in what appears to be an otherwise legitimate and successful firm.