Jury selection starts in trial of Astor’s son

Posted March 30, 2009, at 10:19 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:45 a.m.

MOUNT DESERT, Maine — Jury selection in the trial of Brooke Astor’s son, who is accused of stealing millions of dollars from his famous mother before she died, got under way Monday in New York City.

Anthony Marshall, 84, is accused of taking $198 million from Astor, a longtime seasonal resident of Northeast Harbor, after he took over her financial affairs late in her life. Astor suffered from dementia before dying in August 2007 at the age of 105.

Marshall is now the owner of Cove End, Astor’s former $6 million estate that overlooks the Northeast Harbor Yacht Club on Gilpatrick Cove.

The trial had been expected to begin earlier this year but was delayed after Marshall’s co-defendant, Francis X. Morrissey, unsuccessfully petitioned the court to have a separate trial. Morrissey is a New York attorney who assisted in Astor’s estate planning. The trial also was delayed by prosecutors who said they needed more time to coordinate the schedules of as many as 60 witnesses.

More than 100 prospective jurors were summoned Monday to the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building, where the trial will take place. Jury selection could take as long as two weeks while the trial itself could last two months, according to Justice A. Kirke Bartley, who is presiding over the trial. The judge has said he must find out who can serve on a jury that long.

Astor, long regarded as the doyenne of New York’s high society, gave away $200 million in her lifetime, much of it to institutions in New York City such as the New York Public Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bronx Zoo and others. She also gave money to organizations on Mount Desert Island, including Northeast Harbor Library, Asticou Azalea Garden, Saint Mary’s and Saint Jude’s Parish, and College of the Atlantic.

Marshall is facing charges of grand larceny, scheme to defraud, conspiracy and other charges.

The criminal allegations against Marshall arose in 2006 after his son, Philip Marshall, filed suit in New York to have his father removed as Astor’s guardian. The grandson alleged that his father was enriching himself and his wife, former local resident Charlene Marshall, while neglecting Astor’s health and well-being.

Anthony Marshall was ordered later that year to relinquish his role as manager of his mother’s affairs. With the court’s approval, longtime Astor friend Annette de la Renta, wife of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, took over Astor’s personal care while the bank JP Morgan Chase supervised Astor’s finances.

Annette de la Renta, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and banker David Rockefeller, who also owns a seasonal home on MDI, all are considered possible witnesses in the trial.

As part of the 2006 agreement, ownership of Cove End reverted to Anthony Marshall, who had given the property first to himself and then to his wife in 2003. The Marshalls also had to return paintings, family silver, jewelry and a 10-karat diamond ring to Astor’s estate.

Charlene Marshall, who was married to an Episcopal minister in Mount Desert before she married Anthony Marshall in 1992, is not facing charges in the case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

btrotter@bangordailynews.net

460-6318

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