Scion of New York Philanthropy Family Guilty of Fraud, Grand Larceny

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Manhattan—After a six-month trial that saw a parade of socialite witnesses, the son of New York’s first family of charity has been convicted of attempting to defraud his late mother’s estate.Anthony Marshall, the son of renowned socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor, has been found guilty on 14 of 16 counts against him, including first-degree grand larceny, and scheming to defraud. Marshall will be sentenced in December and could face 25 years in prison for his crimes.

Astor was the wife of billionaire Vincent Astor, who inherited the real-estate fortune of John Jacob Astor. Mrs. Astor in turn inherited the fortune, then estimated at $60 million, in 1959. She is credited with having given millions of dollars each year to numerous recipients, including the New York Public Library, the Fresh Air Fund, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to name just a few.

Marshall, the son of Astor’s first husband, was accused by his own son, Philip, of abusing Brooke Astor in court documents filed in 2006. Guardianship of Mrs. Astor was then granted to her friend, Annette de la Renta, wife of the fashion designer Oscar, and financial control of her estate was granted to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Marshall, who was indicted on criminal charges, was accused of letting his mother live in squalor and cutting back on her medical care and medications, all the while diverting funds from her personal checking accounts – to the tune of $1 million, in one instance, which was used to fund a theatrical production.

Also convicted on five counts, including forgery and scheming to defraud, was Marshall’s former attorney, Francis Morrissey. Morrissey faces up to seven years in prison for his role in the scheme.

Assistant District Attorney Joel Seidemann said that Marshall also gave himself a $1 million-a-year raise as the caretaker of his mother’s affairs before she died at age 105 in August 2007. “These two defendants, two morally depraved individuals, preyed on a physically and mentally ill 101-year-old women to steal millions of dollars,” he said in his closing argument.

His team also called nearly 70 witnesses, some of them very high-profile, including Henry Kissinger and Barbara Walters.

Marshall, who is currently free on $100,000 bail, showed no emotion as the verdict was read. His wife, Charlene, who is widely believed to have aided Marshall in his plan to bilk and abuse his mother, was equally stoic.

 

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