Jim Wiatt Takes Ken Starr, Lawyers to Court Over Ponzi Scheme

Former William Morris CEO files lawsuit against money manger & law firm who referred them to him

He may be behind bars, but Ken Starr isn’t out of trouble – at least not with Jim Wiatt.

The former William Morris CEO and his wife Elizabeth filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit Monday in New Jersey against the law firm Winston & Strawn LLP and its former partner, Jonathan S. Bristol, for malpractice and involvement with the Ken Starr Ponzi scheme.

Starr is included as a defendant in the lawsuit. The couple, who say in the suit that they were referred to Starr by Bristol, are seeking punitive and compensatory damages.

"There's no specific number we're seeking,” the Wiatt’s lawyer David Stone told TheWrap. “Jim and Elizabeth lost $2 million in this scheme so we're seeking five times that amount in punitive. In terms of the compensatory damages, there are lawyers fees, the effect to their reputation and other issues that we can't gauge yet.” 

Jim Wiatt (pictured, right) now consults for AOL

Winston & Strawn did not return TheWrap requests for comment on the case. 

Jonathan Bristol was indicted on Dec. 16 by federal prosecutors, who claimed that the lawyer conspired with Starr to launder proceeds from the money manager’s clients to entities owned or controlled by Starr.

The 66-year old money manager to the stars pled guilty on Sept. 10 to wire fraud, investment advisor fraud and money laundering estimated to be from $20 million to $50 million. Starr is in prison awaiting sentencing on Feb. 3, 2011. He could face over 10 years in jail.

“It was bad enough that Ken Starr defrauded his clients, but what makes this even more egregious is that, Bristol – a prominent partner of a prominent firm – abused his client relationships with the Wiatts,” said the Wiatts' lawyer Stone in a statement Monday. “Winston & Strawn was collecting fees from Starr while, at the same time, purporting to represent the Wiatts without disclosing the potential conflicts that were inherent in such representation.” 

Jim and Elizabeth Wiatt were certainly not only ones to see their finances suffer at the sticky hands of Ken Starr. Over the years, his client list included former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Caroline Kennedy, Uma Thurman, Martin Scorsese, Goldie Hawn, Candice Bergen, Uma Thurman, Al Pacino, Mike Nichols and Wesley Snipes, Ron Howard and Annie Leibovitz.

For David Stone, the behavior of Winston & Strawn in the matter of Bristol and Starr is still a shock. "I'm surprised that a law firm like theirs would let it get to this and treat a client of theirs like JIm this way," Stone told TheWrap, "It's forcing us to have to take them and Starr to court."