Giuliani’s Debts Mount as He Tries to Overturn $148M Judgment

February 23, 2024 by Tom Ramstack
Giuliani’s Debts Mount as He Tries to Overturn $148M Judgment
Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani arrives at the federal courthouse in Washington, Monday, Dec. 11, 2023. The trial will determine how much Giuliani will have to pay two Georgia election workers he falsely accused of fraud while pushing President Donald Trump's baseless claims after he lost the 2020 election. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON — Rudy Giuliani’s appeal this week of a $148 million judgment against him in federal court in Washington, D.C., for defaming two election workers is exposing how severely indebted he has become.

He faces additional lawsuits from two companies he incorrectly accused of rigging their voting machines to favor President Joe Biden while he worked as former President Donald Trump’s personal attorney during the 2020 presidential election.

Law firms have billed him at least $1.7 million so far and he owes about $900,000 in taxes. Other debts have built up from banks, credit cards and golf club memberships.

Meanwhile, a former female employee is suing him for $10 million after saying Giuliani sexually harassed and assaulted her.

Giuliani filed for bankruptcy in December immediately after Georgia election workers Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and Ruby Freeman won their $148 million jury award. The former New York mayor had accused them of falsifying ballots that helped give Biden a narrow win over Trump in Georgia.

This week, a bankruptcy judge in New York told Giuliani he could not pay the legal expenses for his appeal of the jury award from his personal funds. 

Giuliani’s attorneys revealed during the defamation trial how difficult it will be for their client to pay all his debts. His net worth is estimated at less than $50 million, based on one of his attorney’s pleas for leniency when he said a large judgment would “be the end” of him.

He has not yet filed a reorganization plan with the bankruptcy court. 

A bankruptcy organization plan allows debtors to keep their assets while paying off their debts over a long period of time. Sometimes eligible debts can be discharged, assuming a judge approves the plan.

Giuliani’s court filing for an appeal in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals showed the strategy he is pursuing to overturn the verdict.

He says an online publication that first published the defamatory allegations against Moss and Freeman should share the blame and the duty to pay them compensation.

Expert witnesses during the four-day trial improperly put all the blame for the backlash the women suffered on Giuliani, his court filing says. The failure to spread the fault among other sources means the verdict should be overturned, he argues.

One of the expert witnesses, Northwestern University professor Ashlee Humphreys, relied on other persons’ opinions of damage to the women’s reputation, Giuliani says. The dependence on other experts for her testimony meant it was unreliable, his court filing says.

“The court should have stricken the testimony and instructed the jury to disregard it,” Giuliani’s motion for appeal says. “Based on this error, the jury returned an exorbitant damages award for reputation injury based on expert testimony that should not have been admitted.”

The lawsuit was broken up into two parts. In the first trial, a jury determined that Giuliani defamed the election workers by saying in the media that they falsified ballots.

In one example, he said videotape showed Freeman and Moss passing USB drives with forged voting records “like vials of heroin or cocaine” during ballot-counting operations. Moss later testified that Freeman, her mother, was handing her a ginger mint.

A report presented as evidence from the Georgia State Election Board dismissed the voter fraud allegations as “unsubstantiated and found to have no merit.”

The second trial in the lawsuit assessed how much money Giuliani should pay for the emotional distress and reputational harm the women endured.

Moss and Freeman testified that they were threatened and subjected to racist remarks after Giuliani and Trump accused them of election fraud. On Jan. 6, 2021 — the same day rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol — another smaller mob gathered outside Freeman’s home looking for her but she was not there.

During a subsequent congressional investigation, Freeman told lawmakers, “There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. I have lost my name and I have lost my reputation. … All because a group of people, starting with number 45 and his ally Rudy Giuliani, decided to scapegoat me and my daughter.”

The case is Freeman et al. v. Giuliani in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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