Rudy Giuliani files for bankruptcy days after being ordered to pay $148 million in defamation case

Dec 21, 2023, 11:13 AM | Updated: 12:41 pm

Rudy Giuliani, the former personal lawyer for former U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks to the pre...

Rudy Giuliani, the former personal lawyer for former U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks to the press as he leaves the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. District Courthouse on December 11, 2023 in Washington, DC. Jury selection and opening arguments started today in his defamation jury trial brought by Fulton County election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, who successfully sued Giuliani in civil court. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Rudy Giuliani filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, acknowledging severe financial strain exacerbated by his pursuit of Donald Trump false 2020 election claims and a jury’s award of $148 million to two former Georgia election workers he defamed.

The former New York City mayor listed nearly $153 million in existing or potential debts, including almost $1 million in tax liabilities, money he owes lawyers and many millions of dollars in potential legal judgments in lawsuits against him. He estimated he had assets in the range of $1 million to $10 million.

The eye-popping damages verdict that Giuliani was ordered to pay a week ago resulted from his false statements about the election workers. They said his targeting of them after Trump narrowly lost Georgia to Democrat Joe Biden led to death threats that made them fear for their lives.

Ted Goodman, a political adviser and spokesperson for Giuliani said in a statement that Giuliani’s decision to seek bankruptcy protection “should be a surprise to no one” because “no person could have reasonably believed that Mayor Giuliani would be able to pay such a high punitive amount.”

The filing will give Giuliani “the opportunity and time to pursue an appeal, while providing transparency for his finances under the supervision of the bankruptcy court, to ensure all creditors are treated equally and fairly throughout the process,” Goodman said.

But declaring bankruptcy likely will not erase the $148 million in damages a jury awarded to the former Georgia election workers, Ruby Freeman and Wandrea’ “Shaye” Moss. Bankruptcy law does not allow for the dissolution of debts that come from a “willful and malicious injury” inflicted on someone else. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington said Freeman and Moss did not have to wait the standard 30 days before starting work to collect the judgment, finding that Giuliani could use that time to hide his assets.

“This maneuver is unsurprising, and it will not succeed in discharging Mr. Giuliani’s debt to Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss,” said Michael Gottlieb, an attorney for Freeman and Moss

After the verdict, Giuliani said he would appeal, repeated his claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, insisted he did nothing wrong and suggested he would keep pressing his claims even if that means losing all his money or ending up in jail.

The case was the latest and costliest sign of the mounting financial toll incurred by the 79-year-old Giuliani, a one-time Republican presidential candidate and high-ranking Justice Department official once heralded as “America’s Mayor” for his calm and steady leadership after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Giuliani’s financial woes have worsened due to investigations, lawsuits, fines, sanctions, and damages related to his work helping Trump try to overturn the 2020 election.

Among his potential debts, he listed lawsuits brought by two voting machine manufacturers who say he and others defamed them with claims of a stolen election.

Giuliani’s lawyer, Adam Katz, suggested at an August court hearing in one of those cases that Giuliani was “close to broke,” and unable to pay a number of bills, including a $12,000 to $18,000 tab for a company to search through his electronic records for evidence.

In court papers rebuffing voting machine-maker Smartmatic’s demand for an accounting of his finances, Giuliani’s lawyers disclosed that he was so hard up for money that he solicited third-party donations to pay a prior $300,000 bill to the electronic discovery firm.

In September, Giuliani’s former lawyer Robert Costello sued him for nearly $1.4 million in unpaid legal bills. Giuliani claimed he never received them. The case is pending.

Costello represented Giuliani from November 2019 to this past July in matters ranging from an investigation into his business dealings in Ukraine, which resulted in an FBI raid on his home and office in April 2021, to investigations of his work in the wake of Trump’s 2020 election loss.

Investigators noted Giuliani’s dwindling finances in court papers unsealed this week from the 2021 raid, citing bank records and other information showing he’d gone from having about $1.2 million in the bank and $40,000 in credit card debt in January 2018 to about $288,000 in cash and $110,000 credit debt in February 2019.

Giuliani’s other lawsuits, which he listed as potential liabilities, include one brought against him by Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, who alleges he was responsible for the “total annihilation” of his digital privacy by accessing and sharing his personal data from his laptop computer.

Giuliani is also being sued by a woman who said she worked for him, alleging he owed her nearly $2 million in unpaid wages and had coerced her into sex; and for defamation by a man who slapped him on the back and called him a “scumbag” at a supermarket. Giuliani has denied the woman’s claims and has asked for the man’s lawsuit to be thrown out.

In August, the IRS filed a $549,435 tax lien against Giuliani for the 2021 tax year. His bankruptcy filing lists a total of $989,918 in unpaid tax debt, including about $725,000 he owes to the IRS and the rest to state tax authorities in New York.

Giuliani’s bankruptcy filing did not detail his assets or says how he has been making money.

The ex-mayor, still somewhat popular among conservatives and Trump loyalists, hosts a daily radio show in New York City and occasionally advertises products on social media. He also hosts a nightly streaming show, which he calls “America’s Mayor Live.” Both programs involve him pitching various products on air, such as giving a live demonstration of himself popping a vitamin pill he advertises.

Capitalizing on his “America’s Mayor” fame, Giuliani has also hawked autographed 9/11 shirts for $911 dollars. On social media, he’s pitched sandals sold by election denier Mike Lindell’s My Pillow company, offering up “Rudy” as a promo code for extra savings.

After his Georgia indictment, he directed social media followers to the website of his legal defense fund. To save money, Giuliani has represented himself in some legal matters.

He also been on Cameo, a service where celebrities record short videos for profit. Giuliani was charging $325 for his greetings, though a recent check shows they are “temporarily unavailable.”

In July, Giuliani put his Manhattan apartment up for sale. He was initially asking $6.5 million for the three-bedroom residence a block from Central Park, but that might have proved a bit steep. Three months later, he trimmed his ask to $6.1 million. The apartment still hasn’t sold.

In September, Trump hosted a $100,000-a-plate fundraiser for Giuliani at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club. Giuliani’s son, Andrew, said the event was expected to raise more than $1 million for Giuliani’s legal bills.

Andrew Giuliani also said that Trump had committed to hosting a second fundraiser for the former mayor at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, though that doesn’t appear to have happened.

Meantime, a criminal trial awaits Giuliani in Georgia. Giuliani has pleaded not guilty in the case, which accuses him of participating in a wide-ranging conspiracy to thwart the will of Georgia’s voters who had selected Biden over Trump. Giuliani faces 13 charges, including violation of Georgia’s anti-racketeering law, the federal version of which was one of his favorite tools as prosecutor in the 1980s.

Giuliani is also an alleged co-conspirator listed in the federal case charging Trump with illegally working to overturn the results of the election. Giuliani is not charged in that case.


Associated Press writer Lindsay Whitehurst in Washington contributed to this report.

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Rudy Giuliani files for bankruptcy days after being ordered to pay $148 million in defamation case