NEW YORK — The 85-year-old son of philanthropist Brooke Astor was sentenced Monday to one to three years in prison for exploiting his mother’s mental frailty to plunder her millions.
Anthony Marshall received the minimum allowed under sentencing guidelines. The judge gave him 30 days to get his affairs in order, but Marshall might be able to stay free on bail even longer while his expected appeal proceeds.
Marshall tried unsuccessfully to get the judge to throw out the part of his October conviction that requires prison time. Defense lawyers have said the former ambassador’s illnesses would make any prison term a virtual death sentence.
Marshall was convicted of 14 counts, including first-degree grand larceny and scheming to defraud, for looting his mother’s nearly $200 million fortune. She died at 105 in 2007.
The conviction followed a five-month trial in which prosecutors painted Marshall as an impatient heir who schemed to get his hands on his disoriented mother’s money.
Prosecutors, who brought in such prominent Astor friends as Barbara Walters and Henry Kissinger to help make their case, said Marshall manipulated Astor into changing her will and even helped himself to artwork from her walls, largely to provide for a Lady MacBeth-like wife his mother despised.
Defense lawyers said Marshall had the legal power to give himself gifts with his mother’s money and said she was lucid when she changed her will to benefit her only child.
Marshall didn’t testify or call any witnesses at his trial. After his conviction, he aired details of his life — from childhood sorrows to his current health problems — and lined up some celebrity supporters of his own in a bid to stay free.
Neighbor Whoopi Goldberg told the judge in a letter that jailing him “would only amount to an unnecessary cruelty that would serve no real purpose.” Al Roker, a fellow parishioner at Marshall’s church, praised the decorated World War II veteran as a “good son, father and patriot.”
Astor was seen as the queen of New York society and a power in the city’s philanthropic scene, supporting such grand institutions as Carnegie Hall and such humble needs as a new boiler for a youth center. Her efforts won her a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in 1998.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.