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In Retrospect, There Were A Bunch Of Things Accused Ponzi Schemer Kenneth Starr Didn't See Coming

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Say what you will about alleged Ponzi schemer Ken Starr, but the guy wasn't stupid. He knew how to leverage his "friendship" with Blackstone co-founder Pete Peterson into big name clients for his scam operation and he kept them going for quite some time. Still, he apparently wasn't the most perceptive guy in the bunch. As previously mentioned, he didn't realize that obscenely flashy purchases and a high-profile, rather than laying low and not sticking out, might make people go, "hey wait a second..." and he apparently also didn't realize that when you marry a stripper, known for her "pole-dancing prowess," she might be proud of/want to publicly pat herself on the back over said skills.

Two days before his arrest for allegedly cheating clients out of $59 million, financial adviser Kenneth Starr presided at one of Harry Cipriani’s coveted front-room tables, with a view of the Plaza and Central Park, and grinned when his wife, Diane, protested, not very seriously, that she’d thought their third-anniversary dinner would be a private affair. Diane Passage, 34, was wearing a black Gucci dress with a scoop neck that kept slipping to expose more of her Brobdingnagian breasts than the designer had intended—only when she got home would she realize she had it on backward—but Starr, 66, was proud of his fourth wife’s provocative figure. He liked to brag about her pole-dancing prowess. Only when she brought up her past employment as a dancer at Scores strip club did he wince. Why, though? she would ask him. She had nothing to hide.

Yeah, and she's probably pretty damn pleased with the fact that those moves were what landed her her big shot husband in the first place. Think, Starr, think!

Diane and another dancer were approached at Scores, in Midtown Manhattan, one night in late 2004, she recounts, by a middle-aged couple enjoying a racy night out. Next thing they knew, Ken and Marisa Starr invited them to dinner. The dancers agreed—for $1,000 each—as long as dinner was the only thing on the menu. Soon thereafter the Starrs took them to the Four Seasons, Diane recalls, then to Bouley, then to Per Se: $1,000 for each dancer, each evening. (Marisa says she played no part in any such financial arrangements, and merely allowed Ken to take Diane to social events because her own declining health kept her increasingly housebound.)

For nearly a year, Diane relates, the $1,000 dinner dates continued, though now just à deux: Ken and Diane. Oddly, says Diane, Marisa set up almost all the dates; she was in control. But Diane exercised a control of her own. “During that whole year and into early the next year,” she says, “I never had sex with Ken.”

Only when Starr moved to the Regency Hotel did Diane begin staying overnight with him, she says, while the Starrs negotiated their separation. She would have been happy, she says, to have Starr merely support her and her son. According to Diane, it was he who insisted on giving her a huge engagement ring, the Las Vegas wedding, the jewels and designer clothes. And it was he, she says, who pushed to buy a large, new apartment. “I had never owned anything in my life,” Diane says quietly, “so Ken said, ‘Let’s buy a condo.’ It was my dream place. Now it’s become a nightmare.”

All The Best Victims [VF via Dealbook]


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