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Rudy Giuliani files for bankruptcy a day after a judge orders him to pay $146 million

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks during a news conference after his defamation trial outside the federal courthouse in Washington, Friday, Dec. 15, 2023. A jury awarded $148 million in damages on Friday to two former Georgia election workers who sued Rudy Giuliani for defamation over lies he spread about them in 2020 that upended their lives with racist threats and harassment.
Jose Luis Magana
/
AP
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks during a news conference after his defamation trial outside the federal courthouse in Washington, Friday, Dec. 15, 2023. A jury awarded $148 million in damages on Friday to two former Georgia election workers who sued Rudy Giuliani for defamation over lies he spread about them in 2020 that upended their lives with racist threats and harassment.

Updated December 21, 2023 at 1:51 PM ET

Former Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani has filed for bankruptcy, one day after a federal judge ordered him to immediately pay nearly $150 million to two former Georgia election workers he defamed.

In the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, submitted Thursday in New York, Giuliani reported millions of dollars in debt from lawsuits, unpaid taxes and outstanding legal fees.

The filing follows a federal judge's ruling on Wednesday that Giuliani must immediately pay Wandrea "Shaye" Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, for spreading baseless claims about their involvement in election fraud.

Giuliani, the former New York mayor, had called the jury's defamation award "absurd" and indicated he thought it would be overturned on appeal.

In his bankruptcy declaration, Giuliani declared that his primary form of debt is "lawsuits," claiming to owe between $100,000,001 and $500 million in liabilities. Giuliani reported assets worth between $1,000,001 and $10 million.

Giuliani also said he owed nearly a million dollars in taxes for the years 2021 and 2022, with more than $720,000 in federal income tax owed to the IRS and about $265,000 owed to the state of New York. He reported nearly $400,000 in outstanding legal fees as well.

Continued fallout from the defamation case

Though the defamation trial is over between Giuliani and two former election workers to whom he was ordered to pay $148 million, fallout from the case is still following him. (A judge lowered the jury's award to $146 million.)

Giuliani accused Moss and Freeman of toying with ballots at an absentee ballot counting facility in Fulton County, Georgia, in 2020. He claimed they were scanning ballots for President Joe Biden multiple times.

District Judge Beryl Howell ruled Wednesday that Giuliani must immediately pay the sum an eight-person jury awarded last week. A few days before that, the women sued Giuliani again, asking the courts to permanently ban him from speaking about them.

Typically, those ordered to pay damages have 30 days before it is enforced. But in a motion filed Monday,the women's lawyers asked that the pause be waived for Giuliani. They argued he may be inclined to use the time to conceal his assets.

"As the Court is aware, Defendant Giuliani has already proven himself to be an unwilling and uncooperative litigant, including with respect to this Court's orders to pay attorney's fees and costs," the motion says.

Howell agreed, writing in her decision that Giuliani has ignored requests for payment "without seeking extensions of time to make reimbursement, requesting any payment schedules or making any excuse for his nonpayment by the deadlines set in court orders."

Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, second from left, and her mother Ruby Freeman, right, leave after speaking with reporters outside federal court, Friday, Dec. 15, 2023, in Washington. A jury awarded $148 million in damages on Friday to the two former Georgia election workers who sued Rudy Giuliani for defamation over lies he said about them in 2020 that upended their lives with racist threats and harassment.
Alex Brandon / AP
/
AP
Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, second from left, and her mother Ruby Freeman, right, leave after speaking with reporters outside federal court on Dec. 15 in Washington. A jury awarded $148 million in damages on Friday to the two former Georgia election workers who sued Rudy Giuliani for defamation over lies he said about them in 2020 that upended their lives with racist threats and harassment.

Giuliani said the settlement amount and the trial proceeding was absurd and unfair.

"It bore no resemblance to a trial in a country with the rule of law," he said on X, formerly known as Twitter. "I wasn't able to offer any evidence in my defense. We'll have more to say and look forward to the appeal."

On the same day the women filed the motion, they sued Giuliani for defamation again, in the federal district court in D.C.

The pair say despite being found guilty of defamation last Friday, Giuliani continues to tell lies about them.

"Defendant Giuliani's statements, coupled with his refusal to agree to refrain from continuing to make such statements, make clear that he intends to persist in his campaign of targeted defamation and harassment," their complaint says. "It must stop."

Moss and Freeman allege that in the days following the verdict, Giuliani doubled down on his claims in interviews and press conferences, saying things such as, "Everything I said about them is true" and "I told the truth. They were engaged in changing votes."

An investigation by the Georgia secretary of state found no wrongdoing by Moss and Freeman.

During the trial, the women said they received death threats, racist voicemails and a warning from the FBI that their lives could be in danger.

"I was afraid for my life," Moss said in her testimony last week. "I literally felt that someone would attempt to hang me and there was nothing anyone could do about it."

In their latest lawsuit, the women are additionally suing Giuliani for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie
Becky Sullivan has reported and produced for NPR since 2011 with a focus on hard news and breaking stories. She has been on the ground to cover natural disasters, disease outbreaks, elections and protests, delivering stories to both broadcast and digital platforms.