Former Winston & Strawn partner Jonathan Bristol, who laundered money through attorney escrow accounts for investment advisor Kenneth Starr and his Ponzi scheme, will not serve any prison time, Southern District Judge Deborah Batts (See Profile) ruled yesterday.
Batts said a non-guidelines sentence was warranted even though Bristol "was a lawyer and a partner in a firm and used his position to launder over $18 million for the infamous Kenneth Starr for no financial gain."
Bristol pleaded guilty on May 2, 2011, to a one-count information of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was sentenced to no prison time.
Batts pronounced sentence after hearing Bristol and his lawyer, Susan Kellman, ask for mercy. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bosworth had sought a five-year prison term.
Bristol, 57, told the judge, "It has been my dream to be a lawyer and to be a member of the bar. I'm sorry about the events that occurred. I was wrong. I know it was wrong."
Bristol said that he was attracted to Starr, a disbarred attorney who is now serving a 7½-year prison term for a $35 million Ponzi scheme, because of Starr's celebrity clients, including Lauren Bacall, Nora Ephron and Matt Lauer.
"The glamour did appeal to me and I thought by helping him with these wire transfers it could help me [enhance] my practice," Bristol said, adding later, "I just wanted somebody to pat me on the head, pat me on the back and Ken Starr did that for me."
Batts agreed, saying, "Hero worship clouded his judgment over an extended period of time to the detriment of his family and victims."
(For more on Bristol's role in Starr's scheme, see "Starrstruck" from the November 2011 issue of The American Lawyer.)
Both Kellman and Bristol spoke of his depression and treatment by a psychotherapist and what Kellman described as his "horrific history" of abuse as a child, which was not discussed in open court.