The Firms

December 22, 2010 11:17 AM

Another (Unpleasant) Starr Turn for Winston

Posted by Ross Todd

The folks at Winston & Strawn are probably tired of hearing the name Kenneth Starr given that former Winston partner Jonathan Bristol has now been charged with laundering $20 million through attorney trust accounts for the convicted Ponzi schemer.

Unfortunately for Winston, the Starr name won't be fading away anytime soon. One reason: James Wiatt, the former chairman and CEO of the William Morris Agency, sued the firm and Bristol Monday, claiming that Bristol inappropriately offered to represent Wiatt and his wife in the Securities and Exchange Commission's investigation into the Starr matter. Here's a story from sibling publication the New York Law Journal  about the civil suit and a copy of the complaint filed in New Jersey federal district court.

"The facts alleged in the complaint demonstrate that Starr and Bristol took advantage of the close relationships they had forged with the Wiatts to the latter's financial and personal detriment," Wiatt's lawyer David Stone said in a statement. Stone is name partner at Stone & Magnanini, a New Jersey-based law firm that spun out of Boies, Schiller & Flexner in 2009. "This type of conduct warrants not only compensatory but punitive damages to deter such conduct in the future," the statement said.

A Winston & Strawn spokesman referred the NYLJ's request for comment to a statement issued by the firm last week. In that statement, the firm said that Bristol's alleged conduct was "neither authorized by nor known to others at the firm."

Winston & Strawn has said previously that the firm is cooperating with authorities in their investigation into Bristol's activities. Bristol pleaded not guilty last week in response to the indictment handed up against him in New York federal district court in connection with the Starr scandal.

Wiatt and his wife Elizabeth also named Starr as a defendant. Winston & Strawn billed Starr more than $1 million, according to indictment against Bristol.

According to Wiatt's complaint, he sought legal advice for his departure from William Morris in October 2009. Starr, who was his business manager at the time, referred him to Bristol. who advised Wiatt on various matters until May 2010. Starr did not disclose that Winston & Strawn represented him and his companies, according to Wiatt's complaint. The suit also claims Bristol conspired with Starr in the theft of $2 million of Wiatt's money.

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