To the outside world, David Bright appeared to be a stocky, unassuming figure working to help families embroiled in heart-breaking divorces and custody cases.
But as he begins a jail sentence this week, the reality is clear: Bright is a career criminal who has spent decades involved in controversies spanning the globe and inveigling himself in Jewish communities.
He was convicted at Harrow Crown Court in June after submitting a fraudulent psychologist’s letter to a court hearing involving his company, Parents Voice London (PVL).
Based in Mill Hill, north-west London, PVL is advertised as working to help single parents who are struggling with legal issues such as custody battles or maintenance payments.
When Bright was jailed on Monday for perverting the course of justice, it brought to a halt the 48-year-old’s years of criminality.
There had been unconfirmed claims of his arrest and imprisonment in the Bahamas in 2004, although one newspaper report in the country the following year suggested he had received compensation for wrongful arrest.
After pleading guilty to laundering Colombian drug money in 1997, Bright told a Jewish newspaper in Chicago that the experience had taught him “the importance of family and responsibility”.
He owned three kosher restaurants in the city but was part of a four-man operation accused by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of laundering millions of dollars for drug barons.
Bright had been detained at New York’s La Guardia airport the year before. He was carrying $200,000 of banknotes and traces of drugs in his briefcase.
He claimed he had become involved in the racket “to be able to help other people” and had given away “a lot” of the proceeds to charity.
“It’s a very difficult thing to accept that you’ve ruined the lives of not only yourself, but your family,” he told the Chicago Jewish News, in an interview later carried by the JC.
The case became infamous in Illinois’s Jewish community.
After returning to Britain he settled in Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire. In 2011, solicitor and legal academic David Rosen was asked by a local councillor to put together a report on Bright’s activities.
Professor Rosen said he had heard people mention Bright’s name “from time-to-time, mostly in a whisper” and that members of the Jewish community feared “reprisal” after coming into contact with him.
Among the issues investigated was Bright’s involvement in the liquidation of a kosher bakery.
Prof Rosen claimed Bright won people’s confidence by playing on his Orthodox Jewish credentials and then had gone on to engage in “wheeling and dealing”.
Since Bright’s conviction in June, the JC has spoken to more than a dozen people, including communal rabbis, who have met Bright in this country through his professional work.
They say he regularly asked them to hand over money, in some cases to deal with family legal matters and in others to cover his own alleged debts and spending.
Bright denied the claims when approached by the JC in June but admitted his involvement in the Chicago money laundering case.
He said he had “never pretended to be a solicitor” while running PVL and added: “David Bright doesn’t have time to con people.
“I do not deny that I have a past where I’ve made some mistakes, but for the past four or five years I’ve run a company for parents to have access to their children.
“It has helped more than 1,000 children. One or two clients have got angry.”
Records held by Companies House show that since his conviction Bright has resigned as a director of PVL.