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Erika Jayne's divorce is a 'sham' to protect couple's money, lawsuit says

A new lawsuit alleges Jayne's husband embezzled money that was meant for the relatives of Lion Air Flight 610 plane crash victims.
Erika Girardi and Thomas Girardi
Erika Girardi and Thomas Girardi attend an event on June 18, 2016 in Los Angeles.Steve Eichner / NameFace/Sipa USA via AP
/ Source: TODAY

"Real Housewives" star Erika Jayne and her estranged husband, Tom Girardi, are being sued in federal court for fraud and embezzlement by class action firm Edelson P.C.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday in the Northern District of Illinois by law firm Edelson PC, alleges Girardi and his law firm, Girardi Keese, embezzled millions of dollars that were intended to go to the surviving relatives of the Lion Air 610 plane crash. The Boeing 737 MAX crashed shortly after taking off from Jakarta on Oct. 29, 2018, killing all 189 passengers and crew members.

Girardi and his firm, which have earned billions of dollars in settlements for clients, “are on the verge of financial collapse and locked in a downward spiral of mounting debts and dwindling funds," according to the lawsuit.

The documents characterize Girardi and Jayne as being obsessed with maintaining their celebrity status and projecting "a public image of obscene wealth at all time, and at whatever the cost."

"As a result, and most egregiously, Tom has resorted to embezzling the proceeds of settlements that should have been directed to his clients - including, as the basis for this complaint, the widows and orphans who lost loved ones in the tragic crash of Lion Air Flight 610 - in order to continue funding his and Erika's lavish Beverly Hills lifestyles," the lawsuit said.

Jayne, 49, announced her intention to file for a divorce from Girardi, 81, last month. The decision to end their 21 year marriage took some fans by surprise. Now, the lawsuit alleges it was strategic move.

“While Erika publicly filed for divorce this month, on information and belief, that ‘divorce’ is simply a sham attempt to fraudulently protect Tom’s and Erika’s money from those that seek to collect on debts owed by Tom and his law firm GK,” the lawsuit alleged.

A representative for Jayne did not immediately respond to TODAY's request for comment. TODAY also reached out to Girardi's law firm and has not received a response.

The couple met while Jayne was a cocktail waitress at the Los Angeles restaurant Chasen's, where Girardi was a regular. After being friends first, the couple became romantically involved and tied the knot in 1999.

Jayne surprised fans during a 2017 episode of "Andy Cohen's Then & Now," when she revealed she and her millionaire husband never signed a prenuptial agreement.

"I don't have a prenup," she said. "But let me tell you something, let me be very clear. I'm married to a very powerful lawyer. A prenup wouldn't stand in his way anyway. So it doesn't matter whether you had one or you didn't, it's gonna be all Tom's way, I assure you. He'll rip that piece of paper to shreds in two seconds."