Trial of Astor's son gets under way

April 27, 2009 3:44:07 PM PDT
The late Brooke Astor's son and a lawyer are being tried on charges that they looted the philanthropist's $198 million estate. In the district attorney's opening statement Monday, prosecutor Elizabeth Loewy told the jury, "This case is all about greed." The defendants, she said, "tried to increase their own wealth at the expense of Brooke Astor and her charities."

"They stole from her when she was most vulnerable," she said.

Astor's son, 84-year-old Anthony Marshall, is on trial for allegedly looting his mother's estate by taking advantage of her declining mental state in the years prior to her death in 2007, at the age of 105. His co-defendant, Francis Morrissey, an attorney, is charged as an accomplice.

Her original will stipulated that most of the money be distributed among her favorite charities, or what she referred to as "my crown jewels of New York." But, in 2004, according to the prosecution, Marshall and Morrissey tricked her into signing an amendment to her will assigning much of Astor's vast $200 million fortune to Marshall. Morrissey is accused, specifically, of forging Mrs Astor's signature.

This, despite the fact that her original will guaranteed Marshall a 5,000 square-foot apartment on Park Avenue, a 64-acre estate in Westchester and $5 million in cash, among other things.

Among the 60 witnesses expected to testify at the two-month trial are Astor's friends Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state; David Rockefeller, the banker; Annette de la Renta, wife of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, and Barbara Walters.


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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