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New York appeals court upholds fraud conviction for Brooke Astor's son

Astor heir Anthony Marshall arrives for sentencing at the Supreme Court in New York, December 21, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly
Astor heir Anthony Marshall arrives for sentencing at the Supreme Court in New York, December 21, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

By Jessica Dye

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York state appeals court on Tuesday upheld the conviction of Anthony Marshall, who was found guilty in 2009 of siphoning millions of dollars from the estate of his mother, philanthropist and socialite Brooke Astor.

The appeals court also rejected a request by Marshall, 88, that as an elderly first-time offender with medical conditions he should be spared a prison sentence.

Marshall looked frail and tired when he was convicted by a jury in October 2009 of grand larceny, falsifying business charges and other charges at a trial in which he was accused of keeping his mother in squalid conditions in her final years.

The appeals court upheld all of the charges but dismissed one count of second-degree larceny against Marshall.

Following his conviction, Marshall was sentenced to one to three years in prison but has been free pending the outcome of the appeal.

It was unclear whether the ruling would mean Marshall would go to prison immediately or whether his attorneys could seek an extension of his bail pending further legal actions.

Astor, who for decades was top supporter of cultural institutions and charities in New York City, died in 2007 at age 105. She had been married to Vincent Astor and inherited part of a fortune made in fur trading and real estate by John Jacob Astor in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

In amendments to her will, which Astor signed after she began suffering from Alzheimer's disease, Marshall was given tens of millions of dollars and valuable real estate, acts that prosecutors cited in bringing the fraud charges.

Marshall's lawyers argued that Astor voluntarily made the changes to her will and signed over the bulk of the money to her son after deciding she wanted him to be comfortable financially.

John Cuti, an attorney for Marshall, said he was deeply disappointed with the appeals court ruling and was exploring Marshall's options.

A spokeswoman for the Manhattan district attorney's office said Marshall's trial "underscored the importance of prosecuting elder abuse, particularly financial fraud perpetrated by those close to the victims."

A legal battle over Astor's will raged for five years after her death. Ultimately, a settlement allowed for $100 million to be distributed to New York City parks and playgrounds, the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other organizations.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Cynthia Osterman)

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