Giuliani Files for Bankruptcy After $148 Million Defamation Loss
(Bloomberg) — Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York who led efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, has filed for bankruptcy, swamped by legal bills stemming from the many false claims he made to keep Donald Trump in the White House.
Giuliani filed papers in New York seeking protection from creditors, listing debts of as much as $500 million and assets of up to $10 million. The filing gives Giuliani a breathing spell from creditors and pauses civil litigation.
The latest blow for Giuliani came on Friday, when he was ordered to pay $148 million to two 2020 Georgia election workers after promoting conspiracy theories falsely accusing them of trying to rig the election against Trump.
“The filing should be a surprise to no one,” Heath Berger and Gary Fischoff, Giuliani’s bankruptcy lawyers, said in a statement. “No person could have reasonably believed that Mayor Giuliani would be able to pay such a high punitive amount.”
Chapter 11 protection will give Giuliani time to pursue an appeal of the Georgia lawsuit while providing transparency and fairness for creditors, the lawyers said.
The jury verdict Dec. 15 followed a trial on damages Giuliani must pay to Ruby Freeman and her daughter Wandrea “Shaye” Moss for harm to their reputations and other impacts, including lost wages and mental anguish.
“The lies Rudy Giuliani told about me and my mommy,” Moss said in front of the courthouse after the verdict, “have changed our lives.”
Giuliani included the $148 million debt from the trial loss in a list of unsecured creditors, which also included $1.36 million in unpaid legal fees that Davidoff Hutcher & Citron sued him over in September and $2 million that a former grocery worker in Staten Island is seeking after he was arrested for patting the former mayor on the back unexpectedly.
Giuliani has been defending himself in multiple courtrooms on matters ranging from criminal charges to civil defamation, running up millions of dollars in fees and expenses. As the costs mounted, Giuliani admitted in a civil case in early August that he was “having financial difficulties” and he asked a judge to put off some payments.
Legal woes for the former US prosecutor include an indictment in Georgia on charges of racketeering and conspiracy. He’s pleaded not guilty. Giuliani also was sued for defamation by voting software companies Dominion Voting Systems Inc. and Smartmatic Corp. over his false claims that they conspired to rig the election against Trump by deleting millions of votes.
The filing lists “unknown” damages against Giuliani in the Dominion and Smartmatic cases. Hunter Biden is also listed as being owed an unknown amount. A Dominion spokesperson said the bankruptcy won’t stop the company from trying to hold Giuliani accountable.
The president’s son sued Giuliani in September for allegedly violating his digital privacy by hacking and manipulating data from his purported laptop. Giuliani illegally accessed a copy of a hard drive that Biden allegedly left at a Delaware repair shop and tampered with the data for financial gain, according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages.
Giuliani has complained he doesn’t have the money to defend himself in all the cases, and Trump hosted a $100,000 per person fundraiser in September at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, to help the former mayor pay his legal bills.
A three-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side Giuliani owns was put up for sale for $6.5 million in July.
Earlier in his career, Giuliani used federal anti-racketeering law to lock up mob bosses and police Wall Street insider trading when he served as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the 1980s. It helped vault him to the mayor’s office, and his leadership after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks won global acclaim. He sought the Republican presidential nomination himself in 2008.
He later joined Trump’s legal team and pushed discredited conspiracy theories in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Legal bills piled up, and his efforts to pay were crimped when his law license was suspended in New York State and in the District of Columbia. He subsequently faced disbarment proceedings.
The bankruptcy may not allow Giuliani to completely avoid paying the court judgments against him. Certain kinds of debts, like those related to intentional fraud, cannot be eliminated under the US Bankruptcy Code.
The case is Rudolph W. Giuliani, 23-12055, US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
–With assistance from Elizabeth Wasserman, Chris Strohm, Erik Larson, Chris Dolmetsch, Steven Church and Amelia Pollard.
(Updates to add additional details throughout.)
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