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

Rudy Giuliani has filed for bankruptcy, days after being ordered to pay $148 million in a defamation lawsuit brought by two former election workers in Georgia who said his targeting of them led to death threats that made them fear for their lives.

In his filing Thursday, the former New York City mayor listed nearly $153 million in existing or potential debts, including close to a million dollars in tax liabilities, money he owes his lawyers and many millions of dollars in potential legal judgements in lawsuits against him. He estimated his assets to be between $1 million and $10 million.

The biggest debt is the $148 million he was ordered to pay a week ago for making false statements about the election workers in Georgia stemming from the 2020 presidential contest.

Ted Goodman, a political adviser and spokesperson for Giuliani, a one-time Republican presidential candidate and high-ranking Justice Department official, said in a statement that the filing “should be a surprise to no one.”

“No person could have reasonably believed that Mayor Giuliani would be able to pay such a high punitive amount,” Goodman said. He said the bankruptcy filing would 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.”

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.

Last week’s jury verdict was the latest and costliest sign of Giuliani’s mounting financial strain, exacerbated by investigations, lawsuits, fines, sanctions, and damages related to his work helping then-Republican President Donald Trump try to overturn the 2020 election that he lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

In September, Giuliani’s former lawyer Robert Costello sued him for about $1.4 million in unpaid legal bills, alleging that Giuliani breached his retainer agreement by failing to pay invoices in full and a timely fashion. Giuliani has asked a judge to dismiss the case, claiming he never received the invoices at issue. 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 state and federal investigations of his work in the wake of Trump’s 2020 election loss.

In August, the IRS filed a $549,435 tax lien against Giuliani for the 2021 tax year.

Copies were filed in Palm Beach County, Florida, where he owns a condominium and New York, under the name of his outside accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP. That’s the same firm that Trump used for years before it dropped him as a client amid questions about his financial statements.

Giuliani, still somewhat popular among conservatives in the city he once ran, hosts a daily radio show in his hometown on a station owned by a local Republican grocery store magnate. Giuliani also hosts a nightly streaming show watched by a few hundred people on social media, which he calls “America’s Mayor Live.”

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