White-Collar Crime

Ex-BigLaw Partner Gets No Time for Helping Disbarred Celebrity Money Manager Launder $18M


A former partner of Winston & Strawn who helped a now-disbarred attorney working as a celebrity money manager with a $35 million Ponzi scheme by laundering $18 million through attorney trust accounts will not have to serve any prison time.

Saying that Jonathan Bristol, 57, had had his judgment clouded by “hero worship” of Kenneth Starr, who is currently serving a federal prison term of over seven years, and had not committed the crime for personal gain, U.S. District Judge Batts held Tuesday only that Bristol was jointly and severally liable, along with Starr, to pay restitution of nearly $19 million in the New York case, the New York Law Journal reports. Starr is responsible for paying some $30 million in restitution.

Bristol, who pleaded guilty in 2011 to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, wept when the sentence was announced and praised his lawyer, sole practitioner Susan Kellman, after the hearing.

“I just wanted somebody to pat me on the head, pat me on the back, and Ken Starr did that for me,” he told Batts earlier.

It isn’t clear from the article how Bristol, who previously gave up his license to practice law, can pay all of the restitution. Winston & Strawn has said the firm had no knowledge of Bristol’s wrongdoing at the time and cooperated fully in the federal investigation.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com (May 2011): “Ex-Winston Partner Pleads in $19M Scheme; Gov’t Says He Sought Law Firm Status, Not Personal Gain”

New York Daily News (Aug. 2011): “Ponzi schemer Kenneth Starr officially disbarred for masterminding $30M wire fraud scheme last year”

Daily Beast (June 2010): “More Alleged A-List Ponzi Victims”

Vanity Fair (Aug. 2010): “All the Best Victims”

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