Legal scandals of Erika Jayne, Tom Girardi, Jen Shah and other real housewives


In his 2018 memoirs, Nice mess, Erika Girardi wrote enthusiastically about her relationship with her husband. “Tom is 33 years older than me,” she says. “It was always a bigger deal for everyone than for either of us. All a couple really needs is to have the same philosophy of life. If you see them. things the same way, so age, race, religion, none of that matters.

For decades, Tom Girardi was the famous, attorney who rose to stardom in the 1990s when he helped the real Erin Brockovich secure a $ 333 million settlement for residents of Hinkley, Calif., Including the groundwater had been contaminated. But in 2015, when audiences turned their gaze to the Girardi family, it was to watch the televised exploits of Erika Jayne, his wife’s leather and latex pop star alter ego. In December, Jayne began a seven-season series (and it continues!) As a cast member of the hit series Bravo, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. His songs – loud, sweaty and exciting tracks with retrospectively ironic titles like “How Many Fucks?” And “XXPEN $ IVE” —were created by expensive hitmakers like Justin Tranter (Selena Gomez), Sarah Hudson (Dua Lipa) and frequent Britney Spears background singer Myah Marie. A private jet was displayed as frequently and vividly as the designer brands spilling out of its closets. Money, her actions revealed, was no problem, making Jayne the perfect fit for a franchise built on excess.

Erika Jayne in a 2020 appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen.

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Fans were shocked last fall when Jayne quietly filed for divorce papers on Election Day. Girardi responded to filing weeks later, citing “irreconcilable differences”.

A month later, the Los Angeles Times published a devastating and deeply related story detailing Girardi’s alleged fraud and embezzlement, with an extremely concise title: “The Legal Titan and the ‘Real Housewife’: The Rise and Fall of Tom Girardi and Erika Jayne.” A lawsuit filed against Tom in federal court in Chicago that month expanded the allegations: “Tom resorted to the diversion of proceeds from settlements that should have been paid to his customers, including, as the basis of this complaint. , the widows and orphans who lost loved ones in the tragic crash of Lion Air flight 610, in order to continue funding her lavish lifestyle and that of Erika in Beverly Hills. (Jayne said on the show that she was not aware of the allegations against her husband before filing for a divorce, although Girardi claimed “I think she knows” earlier this week, in response to a paparazzi asking, “Did Erika know anything?”)

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Erika Jayne and Tom Girardi in 2016.

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Fortunately, to use Bravophiles jargon, the cameras were in place, filming the divorce petition and the immediate flashback of the allegations against Girardi, and the months of aftermath that will likely turn into years of court dates, depositions. and confessionals with tight lips. . In fact, the cameras have been installed since all recent events taking place at the intersection of the real crime and Real housewives, including the arrest in March 2021 of Salt lake city star Jen Shah for her alleged role in a multi-year telemarketing program. For housewives, take note: keep the skeletons in your variety textbook closet before joining a reality show, lest you suddenly have to, say, show them in the United States once in a while. week.

Shah’s alleged crimes, like the charges against Tom Girardi, run deeper than those of his Bravo predecessors. Network Director Andy Cohen tried to unpack Shah’s work at Salt lake city meeting earlier this year, to no avail; his co-star, Heather Gay, recently said the Watch what is happening live that she knew Shah’s affairs were “unsavory”, but that they did not believe them “illegal”, and that they had not sought to worry because of their friendship. The federal indictment against Shah appears to have unraveled the web in question, with prosecutors charging the 47-year-old with “conspiracy to commit telemarketing and conspiracy fraud. view of committing money laundering “. (Shah pleaded not guilty in April.) telemarketing scheme allegedly defrauded hundreds of people across the country, many of whom were over 55. Tinsley Mortimer’s arrest for trespassing on his ex’s home – a charge that was later dismissed – is not.

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Jen Shah became emotional at the The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City reunion of the first season in January 2021.

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Even if The Real housewives– which recently celebrated its 15th anniversary with a mostly muted fanfare – began as a series that offered viewers a secret entry into the gated communities of Orange County’s wealthy and elite, the real bread and Butter of the show is to highlight disorderly casting conduct of varying degrees of severity. Bankruptcy is rife in the ranks of Bravo; drunk, public antics have become part of the DNA of the shows. At New York City, a passport photo doesn’t seem to hurt your chances at this point. In 2009, New Jersey to put the Housewives on the map when the teammates of star Danielle Staub stumbled upon a book containing information about his past run-ins with the law, which led to the table being knocked down and the “fucking prostitution” taunt heard around the world. Five years later, that same instigator, Teresa Giudice – who is about to enter her 12th season in the series – was sentenced to 15 months in prison on a litany of charges including mail, wire transfer and fraudulent payment. bankruptcy ; her husband was sentenced to 41 months, followed by deportation to his native Italy. Cameras followed them every step of the way.

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Teresa Giudice and Danielle Staub in 2019, several years after their on-screen showdown is the first season of The real housewives of New Jersey.

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If there is a winner in all of the aforementioned mischief, it’s the network itself, with the right ratings and consistent media coverage for both. Beverly hills and Salt lake city (the former regularly has over a million live viewers per episode, and the latter is right on its heels – a solid performance for a second outing). Fans win too: Bravo enthusiasts have gone from lamenting one of the worst seasons of Housewives history (2020s Orange County, who suffered from being the first to film during COVID) celebrating the rebirth of a multiverse that many had felt is fading before our eyes. The captivating, headline storylines that propel the Housewives this year has given viewers hope that you can never count on the franchise, even in its darkest hours.

But at what cost ? Well done definitely don’t throw Real housewives stars based on potential skeletons, but with a life force made up equally of rumors and fights, alleged wrongdoing like that of Shah and Tom Girardi does not surface to injure the fabric of their common cinematographic universe. Until 2021, however, the franchise’s “warts and all” meant mostly victimless crimes, allowing viewers to binge on shows wholeheartedly. The real housewives are, after all, modern day soap operas, with backstabbing, betrayals and buried secrets unearthed. We love to watch women kick each other; some even like it when women throw glasses and tables at each other. But when the people who didn’t register in the spotlight start to get hurt, the strange valley of Housewives infractions go from mild to mind-blowing in an instant. The drama surrounding Shah and Jayne could make for an incredibly compelling television, but it could also tear the fabric of Bravo’s fourth wall very well.

We probably won’t have to wait long to witness the ripple effect of Jayne and Shah’s storylines unfolding on our screens. Beverly hills just filmed a meeting in which Jayne would have “disclosed a lot” about the last year of her life. A trailer for the four-part reunion (the first in four parts in Beverly hills story) reveals its extent, with Andy Cohen’s questions to Jayne taking center stage, setting up what appears to be an explosive month of television. This is not new to the Housewives, however, because on reality TV, nothing remains a secret for long; Let’s just hope people looking for the fleeting fame that the cameras bring will never get it.

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Luz W. German