Jury Finds Brooke Astor's Son Guilty A jury has found Brooke Astor's son and an estate lawyer guilty of mishandling the late New York philanthropist's fortune. The late socialite's son, Anthony Marshall, and lawyer Francis Morrissey had denied looting Astor's nearly $200 million estate. Meryl Gordon, who is covering the trial for Vanity Fair, says it is sad that the family had to come unglued in public.
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Jury Finds Brooke Astor's Son Guilty

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Jury Finds Brooke Astor's Son Guilty


Jury Finds Brooke Astor's Son Guilty

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The end of a very long saga in a New York courtroom today: a jury found the 85-year-old son of the late philanthropist Brooke Astor guilty of grand larceny and scheming to defraud. Anthony Marshall was convicted of looting Mrs. Astor's fortune while she was suffering from dementia. Estate lawyer Francis Morrissey, Jr. was convicted as well.

It took the jury 11 full days to reach its verdict at the end of a long trial. Meryl Gordon has been in the courtroom for the duration covering the case for Vanity Fair, and she joins us from New York. Meryl, can you explain for us exactly what Anthony Marshall was convicted of today?

Ms. MERYL GORDON (Writer, Vanity Fair): Well, he was convicted of defrauding his mother when she had Alzheimer's, everything from taking paintings off her wall that he was not authorized to take, to a million-dollar salary increase that he gave himself - and that's a Class B larceny that requires a mandatory minimum one-year jail time.

He was also convicted of charging $600,000 worth of expenses to his mother for the maintenance of her former Maine estate, which she had given to him, everything from seed packets to groceries at the corner grocery store.

BLOCK: Now, this case exposed a deep and painful rupture within this family, and Anthony Marshall's own sons testified against him at this trial.

Ms. GORDON: Yes. Both Philip Marshall and Alec Marshall testified on the same day against their father, coming into court together. They are fraternal twins. Philip, who's a professor of historic preservation at Roger Williams College, initiated a lawsuit against his father three years ago. Philip went to court with the backing of David Rockefeller, Annette de la Renta, who was Brooke Astor's best friend and is also married to the designer Oscar de la Renta, and also backed by Henry Kissinger. They won that lawsuit. And Annette de la Renta became Brooke Astor's guardian for the last year of her life.

Alec Marshall, a photographer, never wanted to be part of this, but nonetheless, testified in court, and his quiet sadness and remarks were fairly devastating.

BLOCK: And a lot of testimony throughout the course of this trial from huge society names about Mrs. Astor's mental state in her last years.

Ms. GORDON: Yeah. It was everyone from Barbara Walters, both Henry and Nancy Kissinger, Annette de la Renta was front and center. And there were a lot of those people who had seen her and really been saddened: Louis Auchincloss, by how she genuinely didn't either seem to know who they were or that she didn't recognize people.

The sad thing about this was really learning - we probably all learned more about Alzheimer's than we ever wanted to know in terms of the doctors testifying, but at the end of the day, you had to feel sad that this family had just completely come unglued in public.

BLOCK: Now, Anthony Marshall convicted today, 85 years old. He's a former ambassador, former CIA officer. He'll be sentenced in December, and you mentioned already the mandatory one-year sentence. What else could he possibly face?

Ms. GORDON: There are charges up to 25 years. I can't imagine that he would - well, his mother died at 105. He's 85. He could have 20 more years left in him, but he's had a series of health problems. He's had heart surgery. He had ailments earlier in the trial that caused him to miss a number of days in court. It would be surprising if he got more than a year, but who knows what the judge will do.

Tony's legal problems are not over because the next thing up is a battle in surrogate's court over Brooke Astor's will. And clearly the guilty verdicts today are going to make it a tough battle for him to win.

BLOCK: Meryl Gordon, thank you very much.

Ms. GORDON: Thank you.

BLOCK: Meryl Gordon, who writes for Vanity Fair. She's author of the book �Mrs. Astor Regrets: The Hidden Betrayals of a Family Beyond reproach.� Brooke Astor's son Anthony Marshall was found guilty today of stealing from his mother's estate.

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