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Winston & Strawn Ex-Partner Pleads Guilty in Starr Fraud

May 2 (Bloomberg) -- Winston & Strawn LLP ex-partner Jonathan Bristol pleaded guilty to charges that he helped launder almost $19 million in financial adviser Kenneth I. Starr’s investment fraud.

Bristol admitted today to a charge of conspiracy to launder money before U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan said in an e-mailed statement.

Starr, the New York money manager whose clients included actors Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes, was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison March 2 after pleading guilty to defrauding nine celebrities out of $33.3 million. Bristol admitted that he allowed Starr to wire funds in and out of his escrow account, knowing that the funds were proceeds of Starr’s fraud, Bharara said in the statement.

Bristol “abused his position as a partner at a prominent New York City law firm to break the law over and over again,” Bharara said in the statement. “Bristol should have been a gatekeeper; instead, he was an enabler to Kenneth Starr and his multimillion-dollar fraud.”

Bristol, 55, faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, and agreed to pay restitution of $18.9 million, according to the statement. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 26.

Bristol was in a “very tough position,” his lawyer, Susan Kellman, said in a phone interview. “He should’ve known something was wrong, and by the time he did he was paralyzed by the predicament he was in,” Kellman said.

Bristol didn’t profit from Starr’s fraud and prosecutors never believed he did, Kellman said. He will lose his license to practice law and spend the next 20 years paying the restitution and fine, she said.

The case is U.S. v. Bristol, 10-cr-1239, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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