By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK, Dec 18 (Reuters) - A former partner at Winston &
Strawn will avoid prison time in connection with his role in
conspiring to launder nearly $19 million for celebrity money
manager and former client Kenneth Starr.
Jonathan Bristol, 57, was sentenced on Tuesday to time
served, despite Manhattan federal prosecutors' request for up to
60 months in prison. He will be subject to three years of
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Deborah
Batts. She attributed Bristol's conduct to "hero worship" that
had clouded his judgment for an extended period of time.
Bristol pleaded guilty in May 2011 to one count of
conspiracy to launder money in connection with his role in
As a lawyer, he had worked at several big law firms,
including Thelen, which dissolved in 2008, and then at Winston &
Strawn. The firm was not charged with wrongdoing in the case.
Batts's decision means the only time Bristol will have spent
in custody was a brief period in December 2010, at the time of
his arrest. He was later released on $1 million bail.
Starr, who counted film director Martin Scorsese and actress
Uma Thurman as clients, pleaded guilty in September 2010 to wire
fraud, money laundering and adviser fraud charges and is serving
a 7-1/2 year prison sentence. Prosecutors say he defrauded
clients out of some $33 million.
Starr is not the same Ken Starr who led the investigation
of former president Bill Clinton in the scandal over White House
intern Monica Lewinsky.
Batts also approved an order requiring Bristol, along with
Starr, to pay $18.86 million to his and Starr's victims. But
Batts said Bristol will only have to start paying up after Starr
pays the first $5 million.
The restitution amount, which was part of a plea agreement,
equals the amount of money prosecutors said Bristol funneled
through his attorney trust account for Starr.
Throughout his sentencing, Bristol could be heard sniffling.
'VERY GLAMOROUS LIFE'
At the hearing, attended by a group of schoolchildren on a
field trip, Bristol told the judge that he grew up with a "rough
start" in a family of divorce. He attended community college
before transferring to Amherst College and later attended the
University of Virginia School of Law.
"It was always my dream to be a lawyer and a member of the
bar," he said. "And I'm sorry for what happened."
As a lawyer, Bristol said, he began to be part of a "very
glamorous life," and he recounted how his clients had included
the photographer Annie Leibovitz.
He also began to count Starr as a client.
"I was just looking for someone to pat me on the head, pat
me on the back, and Ken Starr did that for me," Bristol said.
Since his arrest, Bristol said his life had suffered. His
marriage fell apart, he sold his house and today he lives alone
in a small one-bedroom apartment with his dog, he said. He also
has surrendered his licenses to practice law in New York and New
Bristol and his lawyer, Susan Kellman, also said he had been
taking medication and was suffering from depression. Kellman
said after the hearing that Bristol is currently unemployed
after working for a time at a Coca-Cola bottling plant.
"I can't see my client in prison," she told Batts.
Prosecutor Michael Bosworth countered that while there was
no question there was "much to be sympathetic" about Bristol's
story or that Bristol felt remorse, "there's no great excuse for
In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors in February had
noted that the statutory maximum jail term Bristol faced, 60
months, was already less than the 70 to 87 months recommended in
federal sentencing guidelines.
Bristol declined comment after the hearing other than to
compliment his lawyer.
The case is U.S. v. Bristol, U.S. District Court, Southern
District of New York, No. 10-01239.
For Bristol: Susan Kellman, Law Offices of Susan Kellman.
For the prosecution: Michael Bosworth.
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