Final Curtain for Anthony Marshall’s Plea for Freedom

Anthony Marshall being consoled by his wife, Charlene, after sentencing.
Anthony Marshall being consoled by his wife, Charlene, after sentencing.

The final curtain in Anthony Marshall’s quest for freedom came down Friday after a judge ordered the 89-year-old to begin his one to three-year prison sentence. Marshall was found guilty in 2009 of grand larceny. The victim was his own mother, famed New York socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor. The person who first sought to have him removed as Brooke Astor’s guardian was his son, Philip Marshall.

It’s an unfortunate ending to a legacy lasting several generations that began with the nation’s first multi-millionaire, John Jacob Astor, continued through the Titanic disaster, and included the philanthropy of Brooke Astor. She donated money to help not only the famous libraries, art museums and concert halls of New York, but also supported settlement houses to help keep teenagers out of gangs.

Marshall’s plea for a retrial was denied Thursday and his court appearance on Friday was for sentencing. When Justice Kirke Bartley gave him the opportunity to speak, he declined. His lawyers, Kenneth Warner and John Cuti, used poor health and age to try to keep him out of prison. Marshall is in a wheelchair, has Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure, is on medication, and needs help getting dressed. That did not sway the judge who added that he took no pleasure in doing his duty. Marshall’s friend Francis Morrissey, Jr., an attorney who was convicted of helping Brooke Astor’s son steal from her by forging her signature on an amendment to her will, began his prison sentence on Thursday.

Marshall’s wife, Charlene, was with him in the courtroom, but his two sons, Alec and Philip, were not. This case wasn’t just about money. It shed light on elder abuse and showed that it can happen in even the wealthiest of families.

Written by: Cynthia Collins, Guardian Correspondent

High Society and Old Money Can’t Buy Freedom for Astor Family Heir

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