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NYC heir, 89, may go to prison Fri. in theft case

Jennifer Peltz, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- An 89-year-old heir convicted of helping himself to his mother's fortune appears to be on the verge of going to a New York prison after years of appeals.

Anthony Marshall, the son of the late philanthropist Brooke Astor, was due in court Friday afternoon. His lawyer, Kenneth Warner, said Thursday evening that Marshall would have to surrender because an appeals court had turned down a request for bail during further appeals; information wasn't immediately available from the court.

The case has involved lots of legal maneuvering, and it wasn't immediately clear whether Marshall may have further avenues to try to forestall his one-to-three-year prison term, which his lawyers and doctors have said could kill him. His health was already poor when he was sentenced and has "seriously deteriorated in the 3 ½ years since," his attorney Kenneth Warner said.

Marshall's co-defendant, Francis Morrissey Jr., was led away in handcuffs Thursday to start serving the sentence imposed on both men in December 2009, after a trial that examined the finances and final years of the woman seen as the epitome of New York society.

Astor — whose third husband was a descendant of one of the one of the United States' first multimillionaires, John Jacob Astor — was renowned for her gifts to a roster of New York institutions. She was 105 when she died in 2007; she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

The Manhattan district attorney's office said Marshall, her only child, exploited her mental decline to use her money to give himself gifts and to mastermind changes to her will. His lawyers said that he had legal authority for the gifts and that Astor deliberately altered her will.

Marshall was excused from court Thursday, but some jurors were on hand as a downcast Morrissey, 72, heard that he would have to go to prison. Morrissey was convicted of forging Astor's signature on a change to her will. His defense argued that if the signature was phony, he knew nothing of it.

Some jurors marveled after court at the time the appeals have taken.

"I thought I was done with this four years ago," juror Larry Kaagan said.

Morrissey's lawyers indicated they would continue an appeal that hinges on a juror's statements that she was intimidated into a conviction by another juror's curses and hostile gestures.

An appeals court said Judi DeMarco's assertions didn't warrant overturning a verdict she stood behind in court. But defense lawyers want the issue revisited because DeMarco recently swore to her account, which she'd previously told to a defense investigator.

The trial judge, Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice A. Kirke Bartley, was unmoved Thursday.

Having prosecuted mob boss John Gotti in the 1980s, "I know something of fear and intimidation," Bartley said. "And it simply does not exist in this case."


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