Erika Jayne accused of conspiring with Secret Service agents and American Express to ‘maliciously prosecute’ costume designer in lawsuit
A costume designer has accused Erika Jayne and her estranged husband Tom Girardi of conspiring with Secret Service agents and American Express to ‘maliciously prosecute’ him after he was falsely accused of making unauthorized transactions on her credit card.
Designer Christopher Psaila has accused Erika and her estranged husband Tom Girardi, 84, of having ‘weaponized the Secret Service to maliciously prosecute’ him in 2017 with the intention of receiving a massive $787k refund during a time of ‘desperate’ financial hardship for the former couple, according to a new lawsuit obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
In 2017, Psaila was indicted on nine counts over Erika’s charges. The counts included wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He proclaimed his innocence, and in 2021 the case against him was dismissed by federal prosecutors.
Psaila, who co-owns the costume merchant Marco Marco, is suing Erika, current and former U.S. Secret Service agents, two assistants for the Bravo star, and American Express.
The costume designer first started working with Erika in 2014, but trouble didn’t begin until a year later when he was accused of making unauthorized charges on her credit card, according to TMZ.
Psaila claims Erika, 52, and her two assistants were aware she had received the clothing and services he had done for her, yet they falsely claimed to American Express and federal agents that credit card charges made by Psaila were unauthorized, the lawsuit claims.
TMZ reports that Erika was an authorized user on the card and her estranged husband was named as the account holder.
The designer asserts American Express sided with Erica and provided her and her estranged husband with the $787k refund. He claims he was not provided with the opportunity to dispute her allegations, according to TMZ.
Psaila alleges Secret Service were told by American Express that Jayne was a victim of fraud.
Erika and Tom are accused of bribing Robert Savage, the former head of Secret Service offices in Los Angeles, to conduct a criminal investigation into Psaila and bring forward the charges. Savage is among the federal agents listed as a defendant.
According to the LA Times, the lawsuit alleges a ‘reckless investigation’ was done by the Secret Service into the claims made by Erika and her team. Psaila alleges information that would have proven his innocence was ‘deliberately ignored.’
According to Psaila, evidence that would have stopped charges from being filed against him or acquitted him in a trial was hidden by Secret Service agents.
It was previously reported by the LA Times that Savage and Tom Girardi maintained a friendship, and Savage had received free legal services from the now disgraced attorney.
According to the outlet, Girardi directly paid Savage ‘at least $7,500 when his legal efforts on behalf of the official fizzled,’ writes the LA Times.
Savage had been investigating the costume designer when the payment was made.
The legal services Girardi provided Savage have been described as ‘bribe and quid pro quo’ in the lawsuit.
‘This case reflects the corruption of the federal judicial system,’ the lawsuit states. ‘The Secret Service and United States should have never presented the case to the grand jury for indictment, and never proceeded with the prosecution.’
Tom allegedly bribed Savage into investigating Psaila by offering to represent him in a case against Volkswagen, according to the lawsuit obtained by TMZ. Tom also allegedly promised to make an $100K payment to Savage when the inquiry into Psaila began.
Tom and Savage’s friendship was not disclosed at the time the criminal case against Psaila began, the costume designer claims. The case ended up being dismissed five years later, but Psaila claims he endured ‘extreme emotional distress, financial harm to his business, plus extreme emotional, psychological, and physical injuries’ due to the case.
Psaila is seeking at least $18.2 million in his lawsuit against Erika, American Express, Savage, and the other defendants. He provided evidence – including text messages and billing records – which Psaila claims proves ‘beyond all doubt’ that services were actually rendered, according to the LA Times.
The LA Times have sought comment from reps for Erika and have not yet heard back, while a rep for the Secret Service refrained from commenting due to a policy regarding pending litigation.
Erika did previously claim to the Times that she was falsely billed by Psaila: ‘In no way did I pull a scam to get $760,000 to help anybody get this money,’ she told the outlet in February.
A representative for American Express claimed they did not commence the criminal probe into Psaila. ‘We followed our regular processes and procedures throughout this investigation as we dealt with law enforcement…We did not play any role in the criminal investigation of Mr. Psaila or his business other than responding to inquiries from law enforcement.’
In his statement, Savage told TMZ: ‘I am restricted by a non-disclosure when I retired from the U.S. Secret Service to discuss casework during my tenure without their approval, so I would respectfully redirect your questions pertaining to the lawsuit to the USSS Office of Chief Counsel and U.S. Attorneys Office for the Central District of California.’