Son of NYC Socialite Astor Could Get 25 Years

Philanthropist Brooke Astor's 85-year-old son had it all but wanted more, and now he might have to face his remaining years in a stark prison cell after being convicted of looting his ailing mother's nearly $200 million estate.

The verdict against Anthony Marshall, a former U.S. ambassador and Tony Award-winning Broadway producer, ended a five-month trial that revealed the sad decline of the society doyenne, who had Alzheimer's disease when she died in 2007 at age 105.

The jury on Thursday convicted Marshall of 14 counts, including first-degree grand larceny and scheming to defraud, but acquitted him on two charges, falsifying business records and another larceny count.

Marshall faces a mandatory sentence of at least one year behind bars and perhaps as many as 25 years.

His co-defendant, estates lawyer Francis X. Morrissey Jr., was convicted on all five charges against him, including scheming to defraud, conspiracy and forgery, and faces up to seven years in prison.

Marshall looked at the jurors as they were polled. Morrissey, 66, looked down. They will remain free on bail until their Dec. 8 sentencings.

Marshall's attorney, Frederick Hafetz, said he was stunned and disappointed by the verdict and would appeal.

After the jury left the courtroom, Marshall's wife, Charlene Marshall, stood at the rail with her hand on his shoulder, her eyes glistening.

When reporters asked her for a response, she said only, "I love my husband," and gave him a brief hug. The couple walked out of the courthouse, hand in hand, to a waiting limousine.

The trial offered a peek into high society from Park Avenue to Palm Beach as prosecutors told a Dickensian tale of upper-crust money-grubbing with a deteriorating grande dame at its center.

The case put Astor's famous friends, including Barbara Walters and Henry Kissinger, on the witness stand and her dark final years on display. Jurors heard how a benefactor renowned for her elegance and wit became a disoriented invalid fearful of her own shadow.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Loewy said Marshall "stole from his mother while she suffered from Alzheimer's disease, making her life worse while enriching his own."

Marshall was accused of a range of tactics _ from scheming to inherit millions of dollars to simply stealing artwork off Astor's walls.

Morrissey was accused of helping manipulate a confused Astor into changing her will to leave Marshall millions of dollars that had been destined for charity.

Jurors rejected only the falsifying business records charge, which alleged Marshall lied to an accountant about $757,000 he got from Astor, and a grand larceny count that concerned the $10 million sale of one of her favorite paintings. Prosecutors claimed Marshall misled his mother about the state of her finances so he could sell the artwork, Childe Hassam's "Flags, Fifth Avenue."

Astor's last will, created Jan. 30, 2002, left millions of dollars to her favorite charities. Amendments in 2003 and 2004 gave Marshall most of her estate.

Prosecutors portrayed Marshall as a greedy heir who couldn't wait for his mother to die, buying himself a $920,000 yacht with her money but refusing to get a $2,000 safety gate to keep her from falling.

Defense lawyers said that Astor was lucid when she bequeathed the money to her only child and that he had legal power to give himself gifts while she was alive. They said she was keenly focused on her will and loved her son.

Morrissey, whose convictions include forging Astor's signature on one of the changes to her will, declined to comment as he left the courthouse. His lawyer said he planned to appeal.

The criminal case against Marshall and Morrissey came after one of Astor's grandsons asked a court to remove Marshall from handling her affairs.

Philip Marshall accused his father of abusing Astor by letting her live in squalor while he looted her fortune. Anthony Marshall denied the claims but agreed in October 2006 to step aside as his mother's guardian.

Prosecutors called 72 witnesses, many of whom testified about Astor's mental confusion in the last years of her life.

Walters described using a photo album to help Astor recall guests at her 100th birthday bash during a visit only months later. Kissinger testified that Astor didn't recognize former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a party she threw for him in 2002.