By Nicole Bode, Jennifer Glickel and Shayna Jacobs
MUNICIPAL DISTRICT — Kenneth Starr is losing lawyers as quickly as he allegedly lost his A-list clients’ money in a $30 million Ponzi scheme.
At least three attorneys so far have bailed out on the financial advisor to the stars since he was arrested hiding in his closet last week. Starr, 66, was charged in a criminal prosecution by the US Attorney's Office and in a civil action by the Securities and Exchange Commission, but it's unclear who's representing him in either case.
What's also unclear is the identity of the mysterious "Associate No. 4," described in the 37-page criminal complaint filed against Starr only as "a partner at a prominent national law firm." The lawyer allegedly helped Starr funnel millions in clients' funds to personal accounts, including the one he reportedly used to buy a $7.5 million Upper East Side condo, and fielded angry calls from celebrity clients, such as Uma Thurman, who demanded to know where their money went.
As the accusations were being made by the US Attorney's office in Manhattan on May 27, Starr's lawyer problems began.
Jonathan Bristol, a partner at the prestigious Park Avenue law firm Winston & Strawn who was listed as Starr's attorney in the SEC lawsuit, was the first lawyer to disappear.
Between Thursday afternoon, when the US Attorney announced Starr's arrest, and Friday morning, Bristol’s phone number, company e-mail address and attorney biography were removed from Winston & Strawn's website, and his direct line was disconnected.
None of the "clients" or "associates" mentioned in the complaint have been named by the US Attorney's office, but the New York Post named Bristol as one of Starr's associates, without specifying which one.
Business Week reported that Bristol was the lawyer who helped Starr's co-defendant Andrew Stein, the former Manhattan borough president, open the shell company allegedly used to disperse Starr's clients' money.
E-mails sent to Bristol’s company e-mail address Friday bounced back with an “Out of Office” reply that stated “Mr. Bristol is not currently receiving email addresses at this address” and referred all queries to Tom Frederick, a partner in the firm’s Chicago office.
Frederick showed up to Manhattan Federal Court on Tuesday for Starr's SEC case, but immediately recused himself. He told Judge Sidney Stein that he had formerly represented Starr, but “no longer.”
A spokesman for Winston & Strawn did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Several partners reached at the New York office also refused to comment — one hung up on a reporter.
DNAinfo reached Bristol at his home in Chatham, N.J., on Friday. He declined to comment on his status with Winston & Strawn and on the Starr case, but said he no longer represented Starr.
He said attorney Joshua Klein had taken over the case.
But Klein jumped ship on Wednesday, telling a US District Court judge that his law firm, Petrillo Klein, had a conflict.
“The wrinkle is that my client does not have counsel, and may or may not be in a position to obtain counsel,” Klein added, saying he learned of the conflict the night after Starr’s arrest.
Klein declined to comment on the specifics of the conflict.
A public defender has been appointed to defend Starr while his legal representation is up in the air.
“The question is if Mr. Starr has the resources to retain counsel or get one appointed," US District Court Magistrate Theodore Katz said Wednesday, giving Starr until Friday to straighten out his legal representation. "He can't drag this matter out."