Jury selection has begun here in New York in the trial of Anthony D. Marshall and attorney Francis Morrissey who stand accused of forging the will of Marshall’s late mother, socialite Brooke Astor who died in August 2007 at the age of 105 and who left an estate of roughly 132 million dollars. In the year prior to his mother’s death, Marshall had been the subject of an investigation that he had neglected and abused her and had looted substantial amounts of her assets.
The trial is expected to last several weeks and the witness list includes such luminaries as Annette de la Renta, wife of the fashion designer Oscar de la Renta as well as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and banker David Rockefeller. Mr. Marshall has been charged with stealing his mother’s valuable art work and of paying himself as much as one million dollars to manage her affairs. Mrs Astor’s former attorney, Francis Morrissey was charged with being part of a scheme to defraud , grand larceny and conspiracy as well as forgery.
An interesting problem faced by this dynamic duo is that ,in the event that attorney Morrissey elects to testify in his own defense, he may be required to answer questions relating to his two-year suspension from the bar after being accused of using undue influence to induce wealthy clients to leave valuable property to him in their wills. As reported here earlier, his wining and dining elderly female clients to gain their confidence and their assets brought back memories of the character Max Bialistock in The Producers. Prosecutors have made an application to the court to be able to question Morrissey about these events should he take the stand. That motion has yet to be decided by Acting Supreme Court Justice A. Kirk Bartley who will be presiding over the trial. Further details will be reported here as they develop.