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Podcast: The big-shot lawyer, Real Housewife and vanished $23 million

A split image of a blond woman and a bald man in formal attire
Erika Girardi in 2016, and, at right, Tom Girardi in an undated photo.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Amy Cantrell)

He was a legendary lawyer. She’s a Real Housewife. Together, Tom and Erika Girardi made a striking couple. He funded their lavish lifestyle with multimillion-dollar settlements. She used that money to create a career as a pop singer named Erika Jayne. Did they break the law to build their dream life?

In this crossover episode with our sister podcast “The Envelope,” we get into a story straight out of a reality TV plotline. (The couple’s unraveling and legal travails are, in fact, included in this season of Bravo TV’s “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”)

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It’s way more than fluff: Tom Girardi was a big-deal attorney — one of his cases served as the basis for the Julia Roberts film “Erin Brockovich” — and he wielded substantial political clout. But a troubling side recently emerged: Clients, including widows and orphans, say they never received tens of millions of dollars his firm was supposed to pass along to them.

We speak to the Los Angeles Times investigative reporters who are covering the Girardis’ downfall. And we talk to a Los Angeles Times television reporter about why the public just can’t turn away from this story.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: L.A. Times investigative reporters Harriet Ryan and Matt Hamilton and L.A. Times television reporter Yvonne Villarreal

More reading:

Vegas parties, celebrities and boozy lunches: How legal titan Tom Girardi seduced the State Bar

The legal titan and the ‘Real Housewife’: The rise and fall of Tom Girardi and Erika Jayne

‘Real Housewives’ attorney Tom Girardi used cash and clout to forge powerful political connections

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Listen to more episodes of The Times here

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, producer Shannon Lin, senior producer Denise Guerra and editors Lauren Raab and Shani O. Hilton. Our intern is Ashlea Brown. Special thanks to Heba Elorbany. Our engineer is Mario Diaz and our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.

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