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Brooke Astor's Son On Trial, Accused of Stealing from His Mom

By Joan Firstenberg     Apr 27, 2009 in Crime
A story out of New York's upper crust gossip columns. The son of Brooke Astor, a fabulously wealthy philanthropist is on trial for allegedly redirecting and stealing his mother's millions.
Anthony Marshall, the 84-year old son of Brooke Astor, a wealthy philanthropist and New York socialite is on trial in a New York court for allegedly stealing his mother's fortunes as she lay dying from Alzheimer's. Mrs. Astor died two years ago at the age of 105.
The New York Daily News reports that the court session today began with a stunning accusation. The Prosecutor charged that Marshall and a lawyer pal of his stole from his mother in order to satisfy his wife. Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Loewy said....
"Anthony Marshall's preoccupation for getting money for Charlene was actually motivation for the scheme to defraud" Astor,
As Loewy painted the 84-year-old Marshall as a liar and thief who stole millions from his senile mother, the suspect's wife, Charlene, sat behind her man - on a small green cushion she'd brought along to protect her derriere from the unforgiving wooden benches. Loewy pointed out...
"There was no love lost between Mrs. Astor and Charlene. Mrs. Astor simply didn't care for Charlene."
Charlene Marshall is not charged with a crime. Still the District Attorney feels there is a connection. She laid out how the former U.S. ambassador and ex-Marine took advantage of the Alzheimer's-addled Astor to change her will and loot her $200 million fortune.
The prosecutor argued that 67-year old Francis Morrissey, an estate planning lawyer who also has been charged with fraud and forgery, was Marshall's accomplice.
"This case is about greed, the greed of two men, Anthony Marshall and Francis Morrissey, to increase their own wealth at her expense,"
Loewy said Marshall knew as far back as 2000 that Astor was losing her mind.
Loewy said Astor had given her son a $2 million apartment on E. 79th St., was paying him a hefty salary, and promised to leave him her Park Ave. pad and sprawling Westchester County Estate. But Loewy points out....
"That wasn't good enough for him so he made a plan, They stole from her when she was at her most vulnerable. They had her make changes to her will that she did not understand."
What it comes down to, is that the two suspects are accused of rerouting $60 million that was meant for Astor's favorite charities into their pockets. Loewy says the pair simply deleted the charities from her will.
Dressed in a gray pinstripe suit, Marshall clutched his cane as the prosecutor laid out the charges. Morrissey sat beside him, clad in a charcoal suit.
Once the grande dame of New York high society, Brooke Astor died two years ago amid accusations that her son, Marshall robbed her blind while she languished on a urine-soaked couch - a prisoner in her Park Ave. home.
Marshall's chief accuser was his son, Philip, whose explosive elder-abuse allegations set the stage for what's likely to be a historic battle of bluebloods fought in open court.
Marshall was accused of neglecting his mother's health by skimping on her medicine, denying her food, and barring visits with her beloved dachshunds, Boysie and Girlsie.
A judge stripped Marshall of authority over his mother and replaced him with Astor's best friend, De La Renta.
A who's who of New York City's upper crust is due to speak at this trial, including Henry Kissinger, Barbara Walters, David Rockefeller and Annette de la Renta, the wife of designer Oscar de la Renta.
Marshall, a World War II veteran, faces up to 25 years in prison, if convicted. He and Morrissey have pleaded not guilty.
The indictment says Marshall stole artwork from his mom, gave himself a $1 million raise for acting as her financial adviser and spent her cash to buy a 55-foot yacht and pay the captain's $52,000 annual salary.
The case charges that Marshall - with Morrissey's help - conned his mom into selling property by claiming she was running out of dough.
In Astor's 1997 and 2002 wills, Marshall gets the bulk of her estate. In will updates, $66 million once earmarked for charities was cut by half - with Marshall and his third wife, Charlene, benefiting.
Brooke Astor was the chairwoman of the Vincent Astor Foundation, which had been established by her third husband, Vincent Astor, great-great-grandson of the first multi-millionaire John Jacob Astor. She was also a novelist and wrote two volumes of memoirs.
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