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Crime doesn't pay, especially following in Bernie Madoff's foolish footsteps. According to People, Ponzi scheme con artist Kenneth Starr -- or, as he's now known, "Scammer to the Stars" -- has reportedly bilked $30 million from a breathtaking list of celebrities, including Uma Thurman, Sylvester Stallone, Al Pacino, Wesley Snipes, David Blaine, Martin Scorcese, Mike Nichols, Nora Ephron, photographer Annie Leibovitz, and the legendary playwright Neil Simon.
The New York Times reports that Starr, 66, was arrested in his $7.5-million Manhattan condo (he was apparently found hiding from the authorities in his closet). One of Starr's victims, Leibovitz, 60, said in a statement, "News of Ken Starr's arrest does not come as a complete surprise to me, and I will follow this story with great interest. Ken Starr no longer represents me and has not for some time."
But, as The New York Post notes, it was a confrontation with Thurman, 40, that blew the lid off Starr's scam. The Oscar-nominated actress "was forced to confront Starr personally about $1 million that had mysteriously gone missing from her account. The money was then replenished when Starr took it out of the account of another client, a talent agent and his wife." Soon afterwrd, news of the Thurman incident spread among his clientele.
During yesterday's press conference, Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said, "Starr had an M.O. that has become unfortunately familiar in recent times. He used his access to famous and powerful clients to burnish an image of trustworthiness, inducing them to entrust him with management and control of their financial affairs."
Starr's scheming could land him in jail for quite a long time. Madoff, 72, who ripped off celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Larry King, and Kevin Bacon and Kyra Segwick, is currently serving a 150-year prison sentence.
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