White-Collar Crime

Ex-Winston Partner Pleads in $19M Scheme; Gov't Says He Sought Law Firm Status, Not Personal Gain

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A former partner at Winston & Strawn pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy concerning a scheme to launder nearly $19 million through attorney escrow accounts under his control.

Jonathan Bristol, 55, said he knew celebrity money manager Kenneth Starr had stolen the money from wealthy clients, the New York Post reported.

During a hearing in federal court in New York City, prosecutor Michael Bosworth said Bristol didn’t do the crime “to gain money for himself, but to maintain a book of business to maintain his position at the prominent law firm,” the newspaper says.

It links to a letter agreement (PDF) outlining the terms of the plea deal, which includes mandatory restitution of $18,860,282.69. Whether Bristol realistically can be expected to repay that amount and, if so, how, isn’t explained.

Although sentencing guidelines call for a 70-month prison term, Bristol will get no more than five years under the plea agreement. His lawyer, Susan Kellman, says she will seek leniency when he is sentenced in September.

Starr is already serving a prison sentence of more than seven years concerning his role.

The article doesn’t include any comment from Bristol’s former firm. However, a spokesman has said previously that his conduct was unknown and unauthorized by Winston & Strawn, which has cooperated fully with those investigating Bristol.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Ex-Winston & Strawn Partner Expected to Plead Guilty in Celebrity Money Manager Case”

ABAJournal.com: “Ex-Client Sues Winston and Ex-Partner, Says His $1M Covered Uma Thurman Loss in Starr Theft”

ABAJournal.com: “Greenberg Traurig Partner Charged With Overbilling Client By $1M to Gain Prestige in Firm”

ABAJournal.com: “Greenberg Firm to Repay All $3.2M Related to Ex-Partner’s Work for Chicago Suburb”

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