Adviser who defrauded stars of $33m is jailed

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The Independent US

Kenneth Starr, a New York investment adviser to celebrities including the movie director Martin Scorsese and the actress Uma Thurman, was sentenced to seven years in prison by a US judge on Wednesday after admitting to defrauding his clients.

Starr, 67, speaking in a near whisper, apologised to his family and victims of his fraud at a sentencing hearing in US District Court in New York. "I stand before you a contrite, humiliated and ashamed man," Starr said, wearing a blue prison smock.

Since his arrest last May, current and former clients have said they trusted Starr, but should have been more suspicious of the lucrative returns he promised.

His client list included the film director Mike Nichols, the actor Wesley Snipes and the photographer Annie Leibovitz.

"Kenneth Starr pretended he had the Midas touch, but he was in reality peddling fool's gold," Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Prosecutors say he defrauded clients of some $33m and asked US District Judge Shira Scheindlin to consider imposing a 12-year sentence.

In September, as part of a deal with the government, Starr pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and adviser fraud. Since his arrest he has been held in custody, unable to post bond. Prosecutors accuse him of defrauding about nine clients, including an unnamed actress and a jeweller.

Scheindlin ordered Starr to pay $29m (£18m) in restitution on top of the prison sentence. She said her sentence took into account the fact that his victims were all well-off and were not left destitute.

"[The fraud] is not an astronomical figure," Scheindlin said, adding that Starr had "lost his moral compass... partly as a result of his infatuation with his young fourth wife." Starr's wife, Diane Passage, 34, is a former nightclub pole dancer.

Starr is not the Ken Starr who led the investigation of then President Bill Clinton in the affair over White House intern Monica Lewinsky.