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Starr Lawyer Says Restitution Deal Reached With U.S.

Kenneth I. Starr
Kenneth I. Starr, the money manager who admitted to defrauding his celebrity clients of as much as $50 million, is seen here, left, in a file photo with James Wiatt, chairman of the William Morris Agency, during the Allen & Co. Media and Technology Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Kenneth I. Starr, the money manager who admitted to defrauding his celebrity clients of as much as $50 million, has reached a restitution agreement with the U.S. government, his lawyer said in a letter to a federal judge.

The amount to be repaid to the victims wasn’t specified in the Feb. 8 letter from Flora Edwards to U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan. Starr, who pleaded guilty in September to wire fraud, money laundering and investment adviser fraud, faces 121 to 151 months in prison when he’s sentenced March 2.

“We’re filing a letter next week that sets down the details of the restitution agreement,” Ellen Davis, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, said in a telephone interview. Victims will have until April 4 to submit documents related to their losses, she said.

Starr, 67, was arrested in May and accused of defrauding clients including heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon. Actors Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes were also clients. Edwards and the government agreed, for sentencing purposes, that the amount lost in the fraud totaled from $20 million to $50 million.

“Mr. Starr has been unable to prepare a financial affidavit because the receiver appointed in the SEC case has refused to turn over his personal records,” Edwards said in the letter, referring to a civil suit brought against her client by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Starr’s capacity to compensate his victims is uncertain, according to court papers.

‘Pools of Funds’

His efforts to raise money to “create a pool of funds from which restitution could be made” were unsuccessful, Edwards said in a Dec. 22 letter to the judge seeking revocation of his bail.

At a hearing yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Harrington told Scheindlin that some of Starr’s victims are entitled to more than they are promised in the restitution agreement, the New York Post reported.

According to a Dec. 22 court document, there were nine victims of Starr’s fraud, owed $47 million. Three of the victims were repaid a total $11.5 million, leaving a balance of $35.5 million, “much of which is contested.”

Edwards didn’t return messages seeking comment.

Starr agreed, as part of the guilty plea, to forfeit a condominium on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that cost at least $7.5 million.

Criminal Counts

Starr was arrested in May 2010 and charged with 23 criminal counts.

The defendant’s firm, Starr & Co. LLC, managed assets and provided financial planning to high net-worth individuals.

Starr in some cases “exercised direct control over the personal bank accounts of his clients” and made transfers of funds to himself, according to the indictment. He also induced some clients to invest in “risky illiquid business ventures in which he, his wife and/or his close associates often held material financial interests.”

The criminal case is U.S. v. Starr, 10-00520, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The civil suit is SEC v. Starr, 1:10-CV-04270, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net.

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