The Shady Side Of Erika Girardi

You may know her as Erika Girardi or her stage name Erika Jayne, and there's no doubting this reality star isn't afraid to be outspoken. Erika really made a name for herself (or two, in this case) when she joined the cast of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" for Season 6, which debuted on Bravo back in 2015, and it's safe to say this glam star has brought plenty of drama to our screens since then.

In the years that have followed, it seems like Erika has been the name on pretty much everyone's lips — but not always for all the right reasons. The series has shown the fallout that stemmed from Erika slamming her fellow "RHOBH" co-stars (more to come on that later), to her various lawsuits (more to come on that later, too), and her less than stellar business ventures (guess what? There's more to come on that, as well!) with this reality star holding nothing back in front of the camera.

But this Bravolebrity (yep, that's a word here at Nicki Swift) is hardly squeaky clean, as she's had her fair share of seemingly shady moments both in front of and away from the camera. So grab some popcorn and your glam squad, as we dive into Erika Girardi's controversial past.

The Girardis' embezzlement allegations

Okay, of course, we had to start with the big one. In what has to be one of the biggest scandals in "Real Housewives" history, anyone who has any kind of interest in the franchise will already know that Erika Girardi is involved in a serious legal drama alongside her estranged husband, Tom Girardi.

We'll keep it as simple as we can, because it's all a little complicated. The basics of the case are that the Girardis were accused of stealing funds that belonged to the families of those who died in a tragic plane crash. That brought with it plenty of other allegations, including speculation that their November 2020 divorce could have been fake to protect or hide assets. Tom's law firm filed for bankruptcy around that same time, with People reporting that he'd been accused of embezzling money to "[fund] his and Erika's lavish Beverly Hills lifestyles" by putting money from his firm into the accounts of Erika's businesses. As for how much money? Court documents claimed it could allegedly have been a whopping $20 million.

Things only got worse from there. In February 2022, Erika and her company, EJ Global, were named in a $2.1 million lawsuit, which alleged, per People, she had "aided and abetted" Tom. Erika has always maintained her innocence, though, with her lawyer hitting back in regard to the February filing, "Erika had no knowledge or role in any of it. The focus should be on Mr. Girardi, his law firm, and anyone else who enabled what he did."

The gold digger accusations

To borrow a line from Kanye "Ye" West, we "ain't saying she a gold digger" ... but plenty of other people have. Ever since Erika Girardi shot to fame on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," she's been plagued by the phrase, mainly because her ex-husband, Tom Girardi, is 33 years older than her, and they met while she was a cocktail waitress at a restaurant in the late '90s.

As for why the allegations swirled so vehemently? Well, according to Celebrity Net Worth, Tom claimed that his fortune was roughly a whopping $264 million in 2015, and we're guessing Erika's was quite a bit less than that while waitressing. However, Erika has always shot down the gold digger claims, admitting to People in 2018 that, at the beginning of their romance, "Everyone thought I was marrying him to have a baby and lock down the money, as ugly as that sounds." Though she claimed, decades into their marriage, she got that impression "less and less."

She also defended her relationship three years earlier, pointing out during a December 2015 episode of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" that she worked hard for the money, too — but that doesn't mean she doesn't appreciate the high life. "Going from nothing to everything is pretty amazing," Erika shared in the episode (via Radar), admitting she "was broke" when she met Tom. "Being broke sucks and being rich is a lot better!" the star joked.

Erika Girardi's cross country move without her son

Erika Girardi's call to Tinseltown apparently didn't include two tickets, as she actually made the big move to the West Coast from the East without her son, Tommy Zizzo. Erika revealed during a since-deleted interview on the "Juicy Scoop with Heather McDonald" podcast (via All About The Tea) in 2016 that her son was 3 years old when she ditched the concrete jungle to become a California girl, where she found love with Tom Girardi.

The reality star explained she had a discussion with her first husband, Thomas Zizzo, and decided to leave "to see what's possible." But their young son didn't come with her, instead staying in the Big Apple with his dad and attending school. That admission had some, including All About The Tea, accusing Erika of having "abandoned" her son, something the star has denied. Even though it's thought that he didn't attend her wedding to Tom Girardi in 1999, they ended up being so close that Tommy even lived with his mom and stepdad after making his way to California as an adult.

Erika admitted that she loved having her police officer son home with her, telling The Daily Dish in 2017, "It's nice to hear him come home. It's nice to hear him come off duty and I can see his car in the driveway or I hear him walk up the steps. To me, I sleep a little better at night just knowing that I know where he is."

Her company was suspended

Another day, another legal drama. Erika Girardi found herself on the wrong side of the law again in January 2022 when her company, EJ Global, was suspended from trading. The company had the plug pulled by the California Franchise Tax Board, with Radar reporting that the action can be taken against businesses for offences like "failing to file a tax return or failing to pay taxes, penalties, fees, or interest." Even worse news for Erika? She legally wasn't allowed to shut the business down or sell it until she righted its alleged wrongs.

Erika's lawyer hit back at the shutdown in a statement, in which he claimed that he and the reality star "did not receive any notice of the new suspension, and we're trying to determine the basis." He speculated that an outstanding tax issue could have been to blame for the drastic measures, explaining that if it was an unpaid tax bill, then "it will be rectified and this will be much ado about nothing."

The company — which lists its mailing address on Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles — was founded in 2008, according to Open Corporates, with Tom Girardi initially being named CEO. Erika then seemingly became the CEO in 2020, while the company has experienced more than one instance of going from "active" to "inactive" over the years.

Erika Girardi's controversial extensions

Erika Girardi is pretty much the queen of glam and is almost as famous for her luscious long, blonde locks as she is for her sassy comebacks. So, a business venture into the world of hair extensions seemed like a pretty natural fit and a sure fire hit, right? Wrong.

The star launched her line, Pretty Mess Hair, in December 2021, amid her various lawsuits relating to Tom Girardi's embezzlement allegations scandal. "I've definitely had quite an interesting year and being a part of a new business venture is both exciting and refreshing," she told People at the time. "It gives me butterflies. This is a new chapter of my life and I'm grateful to be moving in a glamorous, wonderful new direction."

But it didn't take social media long to extend their disapproval. The extensions were quickly slammed on platforms like TikTok, where some described the pieces as being overpriced (some cost upwards of $700!), with others taking to the comments section of her Instagram posts promoting her new venture to call out the star. "Too expensive — you can buy these exact same extensions on Amazon — save your money hunny," one person hit back on Instagram. Twitter was equally awash with criticism, with one person asking, "Erika Jayne is selling 200g hair extensions for $710. Is that a JOKE?"

Call in the paparazzi!

Is Erika Girardi in with the paps? Well, it's been rumored! Erika has been accused on more than one occasion of calling the paparazzi to get snaps of her while out and about in places you may not expect to find her.

One of the most notable cases came in September 2021, when Erika was suspected of setting up candid shots while shopping at TJ Maxx. Ronald Richards — the lawyer going up against Erika and her legal team amidst the Girardis' embezzlement case — was one of those calling BS on the photos, writing on Twitter, "Instead of creating staged press outings at TJ Maxx, just return some of the $. No one drives to Pasadena when the closest TJ Maxx is 2.5 mi from the luxury rental. Locals would know!" He also included shots of the star making her purchases, including an indoor pet ramp. The idea that Erika could potentially have set up the snaps was doubled down on by Radar, who noted the paparazzo appeared to be inside the store with her and she "didn't seem fazed" they were snapping away as she browsed.

That wasn't the first time Erika has been accused of having candid pictures that, well, might not actually be so candid. In January 2021, when the host of "The Reality Reading Rainbow" podcast suggested that the supposedly natural snaps of Erika visiting KFC "looked so staged," Richards claimed it was "a theatrical performance to try to pretend that she is cutting back on her expenses."

Her RHOBH co-stars think she's a 'liar'

Erika Girardi hasn't exactly escaped allegations she may not always tell the truth, only the truth, and nothing but the truth. "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star has repeatedly been hit with allegations of, let's just say, stretching the truth, particularly by her very own co-stars.

One of the most infamous cases on "RHOBH" came during a February 2016 episode, when Lisa Rinna described Erika as being someone who "tosses honesty out the window" (via All About The Tea), noting, "There are definitely two distinct sides to Erika." The fallout came after Erika gossiped to Yolanda Hadid about Lisa's personal life, with Erika initially denying she was involved, saying during the "RHOBH" episode that aired the week prior, per All About The Tea, "First off, I am not a p**** or a liar."

But that was far from the only time Erika has been accused of turning into a bit of a Pinocchio. Kelly Dodd branded Erika as "an absolute liar" during a September 2021 interview with Us Weekly. "You see it on the show, they catch her in so many lies. Well, she's not a truthful, upfront person," she added. Sutton Stracke had a similar take on her "RHOBH" co-star. When asked by Us Weekly that same month if she thought Erika was "a liar," she responded, "Well, yeah 'cause she lied. We know that. She will never admit that and I'm never gonna come off of how I see it."

Erika Girardi, Queen of Shade

As anyone who's even somewhat aware of Erika Girardi will likely already know, she's no wallflower. In fact, she's pretty much the opposite. The star has made plenty of noise since becoming a Housewife in 2016, which, naturally, includes a few feuds and arguably shady remarks.

While there are too many seemingly shady comments to even list in full here, we can tell you that amongst those who have felt Erika's wrath over the years include Lisa Vanderpump, Dana Wilkey, Danielle Staub, and Denise Richards – not to mention plenty of others. In fact, all of her "RHOBH" co-stars have had some shade thrown at them once or twice, including ahead of the Season 11 reunion episode, when Erika suggested to Bravo that she was the star of the show as "basically nobody else did anything."

Another example of Erika's allegedly shady behavior? When she appeared to use Instagram to call out co-star Sutton Stracke's intellect by likening her to the Scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz." This all went down in a September 2021 episode of "RHOBH," in which the two fell out and the other Housewives began questioning what really happened regarding that infamous embezzlement case. Taking to her Instagram Stories as the episode aired (via Screen Rant), Erika shared a meme from the movie classic, in which Dorothy asks, "How can you talk if you haven't got a brain?" to which the Scarecrow hits back, "I don't know. But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don't they?" Yikes!

Those Erika Jayne fan slams

There's a saying that you shouldn't bite the hand that feeds you, but Erika Girardi seemed unaware of that back in 2016, when she came for the necks of fans of reality TV. Yep, the reality star appeared to forget who her fanbase is with an ill-fated tweet after a troll came for her.

This all went down after a Twitter user called out the Housewives, writing, "They are all the same. Mature & classy women don't do reality shows." The person tagged Erika in the post, and it most certainly caught the star's attention. Erika responded, "Mature and classy women don't watch and comment on reality shows either..." Yikes.

But this isn't the first time Erika's attitude toward "Real Housewives" fans has come under the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. In October 2020, things boiled over again after she reposted a stylized collage made by the Bravo fan account @brandsbybravo that featured her, Robyn Dixon, and Lisa Rinna donning the same outfits while being dubbed the Pink Ladies from "Grease." Erika then shared the same image on her account, but didn't seem too happy when the original creator asked to be credited. "The way to get more 'credit' for your 'ideas' is to come up with your own and stop leaving comments on my page about how you feel wronged," she hit back, per Screen Rant. "These images do not belong to you. Now go make some interesting s*** that I can promote."

The reality star's confusing childhood timeline

Erika Girardi has a pretty confusing childhood timeline, one that's been exposed by the blogosphere before. The star hasn't made too much of a secret of where she grew up and her life before the spotlight, though she's been accused of potentially being a little bit forgetful when it comes to exactly when things happened in her past.

One of the biggest sources of contention stemmed from her admission during a March 2017 episode of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," in which she claimed she spent a lot of her childhood in her grandparents' home in Georgia, per All About The Tea. The cameras followed her as she revisited the location and explained, "There's a lot of memories that we shared there. There were so many good times here. So many Christmases and birthdays — so it's great, but it's emotional at the same time."

However, things didn't quite add up. Erika had claimed her grandparents bought the home when she was a 17-year-old, which makes it a little bit late to have childhood memories there. Plus, she was 18 years old when she made the move to New York City, getting married and having a baby shortly after, making it even more unlikely she would have been heading back to Georgia on a regular basis. By the time Erika was in her mid-20s, she moved to California, and the rest, as they say, is history — we're just not sure how much time was actually spent at her grandparents' place in Georgia...

Is Erika Girardi a 'nightmare' to work with?

Let's be honest, most people have a little bit of a diva side sometimes, but it sounds like Erika Girardi's might rear its head a little bit more often than most, if certain allegations are to be believed.

Enter Amir Yass, who claimed he worked with Erika while a member of Diana Madison's PR team and described her as being "a motherf****** nightmare" in a popular TikTok clip. He elaborated on his experience in a 2020 interview with Heavy, where he recalled meeting Erika for the first time and introducing himself, but claimed she seemed "just so over" him from the get go. When Yass told Erika it was time to go to the live show she was booked to do, she allegedly responded, "Don't tell me what to do." All that, Yass speculated, may have contributed to him losing his job shortly after.

Erika has also been accused of being rude to "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" producers before, with Kathryn Edwards and Camille Grammer both calling her out. Kathryn was first, saying on "Behind the Velvet Rope" podcast in September 2020 that Erika allegedly spoke "really poorly to all the crew" and "talked down to people" and also "snapped" at others who "were working for her." Camille then backed up those claims, writing on Twitter, "She does.. I have witnessed it myself. If a scene doesn't suit her she yells at the crew and producers. [It] doesn't happen all the time but she did this in the Bahamas."