An investment adviser to celebrities and wealthy New Yorkers pleaded not guilty yesterday to defrauding clients of at least $59 million.
Kenneth Starr, 66, is charged with 23 counts of wire fraud, money laundering and other crimes.
He appeared before US magistrate judge Gabriel Gorenstein in Manhattan federal court and has been detained without bail since his May 27 arrest.
Since his arrest, current and former clients, who include film director Mike Nichols and actor Wesley Snipes, have said they trusted Starr but should have been more suspicious of the lucrative returns he promised.
Singer-songwriter Carly Simon said she lost $15 million because she believed the promises Starr made about potential financial returns.
"I am that naive and stupid. I thought that that was possible," Simon, known for such hits as "You’re So Vain" and "Anticipation," told The New York Observer this week, saying Starr had guaranteed her a 28% return on her cash.
Representatives for Simon were not immediately available for comment.
According to an affidavit by an Internal Revenue Service agent, Starr ran a complex set of schemes involving his son, his wife and several others.
Starr's case has caught New Yorkers' attention with its mix of celebrity clients, Manhattan socializing, and his wife, Diane Passage, a former nightclub pole dancer and stripper.
She was named in a related civil suit brought by the US Securities and Exchange Commission as a recipient of funds.