'Real Housewives' star, estranged husband's legal problems subject of new documentary

Embezzlement accusations against attorney Tom Girardi, from whom Erika Jayne filed for divorce, are examined in ABC News’ original documentary "The Housewife and the Hustler," now streaming on Hulu.
9:29 | 06/16/21

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Transcript for 'Real Housewives' star, estranged husband's legal problems subject of new documentary
Reporter: Erika Jayne is in need of a new lawyer. Representing the reality star in her bankruptcy case dropping her as a client. What does it say that her lawyers are quitting her case? Any time a lawyer quits a case, it does not take a genius to find out that is not a good thing. Reporter: In the legal documents the firm writing, the relationship of trust and confidence that is essential to a properly functioning attorney-client relationship has broken down. The relationship is irreparable. This just the latest fallout in the ongoing legal scandal surrounding the bravo star and her high-profile split with her 82-year-old husband, attorney Tom Girardi, which appears to be a storyline on the show this season. Because the biggest scandal in "Housewives" history -- Did you know what was going on? About to go from 0 to 100. Reporter: Tom Girardi stands accused of embezzlement and fraud for allegedly stealing millions from his clients' settlements, raising questions about oversight of the California legal system. It's embarrassing. It's just embarrassing that we have not policed ourselves in a way that this kind of activity couldn't have been stopped. Reporter: California stater? Tom umberg chairs the state judiciary committee which has oversight of the state bar. What do you want to know about what has transpired with the bar the last several years? I want to know how deep this has gone. The situation is bigger than Tom Girardi, the situation is such that if the bar allowed that misconduct to continue for as long as it did, you know, are there others that are similarly situated? And what needs to be done to make sure that this doesn't happen again? Reporter: Just days ago, the California bar association admitting to missteps in its handling of Girardi in the past, writing, an audit of past complaints filed against attorney Thomas B. Girardi revealed mistakes made by the bar over the many decades of Mr. Girardi's career, going back some 40 years. The bar now saying it's committed to implementing reforms in oversight. For the bar association to say that the mistakes go back 40 years? Is astonishing. To suggest that it's been decades of time? Where they haven't been investigating problems? That's unprecedented. How is it possible that a lawyer could escape some scrutiny after years and years of complaints from victims? Deborah, that's an excellent question, and that's one of the reasons I have taken the funding out of the state bar for this year until we get answers to those questions. Until they appoint a chief trial counsel. Until we know what happened and we know how it's going to never, ever, ever happen again. This is horrendous. Reporter: Girardi's very public fall from grace the subject of an ABC news original documentary "The housewife and the hustler" currently streaming on hulu. That bothered me a little bit, seeing them with this extravagant lifestyle. It often made me wonder, I wonder if some of that money's mine? Out of the $130,000 settlement, I haven't received anything, not a penny. This is Tom Girardi, don't be mad at me, it's not my fault. Reporter: Accusations against the legal legend include allegations that he used the stolen client money to fund his lavish lifestyle. When you're a personal injury lawyer, the worst thing someone could allege about you would be that you were stealing clients' money. That's almost the ultimate sin. I think prior to the documentary, the story was very tabloid in nature. I think what the documentary did a great job at was really giving a voice to the victims. Reporter: Allegations all the more stunning because Girardi was once the pinnacle of the legal world. Tom Girardi was L.A. Law. He is Mr. Lawyer. A superstar. An icon. A bad-ass trial lawyer. We're talking the money we're really going to get, and that's $15 million. I'm a man without conviction If you had a case that had the potential to resolve itself or be resolved for millions and millions of dollars, his was the kind of firm that U wanted to go to. He didn't just represent l.a.'s elite, he represented a lot of average folks too. Karma chameleon you come and go you come and go When I became a lawyer over 30 years ago, I knew Tom Girardi, who he was, from day one. With golden dreams with golden dreams And then, of course, the case came along which a lot of people refer to as the brockovich case where he sued pg&e. Pg&e has requested that we submit to binding arbitration. What's that? Tom Girardi was depicted in the Erin brockovich movie, but in real life, he's the actual attorney who closed the deal that at the time was the largest settlement of its kind. Reporter: Girardi's former clients had trouble believing anything was wrong, given his top-notch reputation. Joe ragoma says Girardi owed him millions but always had excuses for why he couldn't pay. I mean, it was as simple as me noticing like, okay, I'm expected to get a payment this and I didn't get it. So I would call him. And, you know, he was hard to get ahold of. He'd be like, oh, yes, sorry about that, these things happen, I'll get to it you next week. Half the time the check would come when he'd say so, the second time. Other times it wouldn't. Reporter: His mother, Kathy, and best friend, Kimberly, worked for years to uncover details about their missing money. Kimberly Archie, a legal consultant, once worked with Girardi. I want to do as good as I can for you. I'm in your corner. I've never believed in a case more and I've never liked a family more than you guys, I mean that. Okay, I'll try and reach you over the weekend, good-bye. When I hear the voice, it makes me sick to my stomach. Because I know it was all a lie. Reporter: The family ultimately sue Girardi, hoping to recover their money. The documentary featuring this never before aired deposition from that lawsuit. Do you have any personal banking? No, I'm -- at one point, I had around $80 million. Or $50 million in cash. That's all gone. Reporter: A federal judge has referred at least one case involving Girardi to the U.S. Attorney's office. When a federal judge makes a criminal referral to the U.S. Attorney's office, it means that that judge thinks that there was a crime that may have been committed and is asking the U.S. Attorney's office to investigate. That's bad news for the person who is being referred. Reporter: The documentary raising questions about what Erika Jayne knew of her husband's alleged behavior. She is named in at least one of the lawsuits. The Chicago case right off the bat, they name Erika Jayne in their lawsuit. One of the lenders owed money by Tom Girardi claimed in a lawsuit that Tom had given his wife $20 million in loans from Girardi Keyes, and that money went to Erika Jayne's entertainment company, E.J. Global, LLC. He was taking money in some cases, it's been alleged, and investing it into Erika's business, into her career. And the allegations are that money was coming from clients. Reporter: So far, the reality star hasn't commented publicly on the allegations. When you see "The housewives of Beverly hills" and you see Erika Girardi displaying incredible opulence, it's got to be a dagger to the hearts of those who have had their money stolen. Reporter: Erika Jayne's costars have largely lent support, including Kyle Richards on a recent interview with "Entertainment tonight." I'm not defending, because I don't know anything. I mean, I don't know. So I'm not going to sit there and say, I know for a fact so I'm going to defend. No, I don't know, so I'm there to support, not defend. Do you think that you're likely to see a change in how these perceived? I do think we will see a change in how she is perceived. And we're already seeing it. I was just looking through her Instagram because she's been posting as usual. And all of a sudden the comments are flooded with people saying, are you not going to address this hulu documentary? Are you not going to address any of this? I think that people are now definitely going to demand answers from her. Our thanks to Deborah. You can watch the full documentary "The housewife and the hustler" streaming now on hulu.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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