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Son of NY philanthropist wins last-minute reprieve from prison

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 Francesca Trianni

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Anthony Marshall, 89, son of late philanthropist Brooke Astor, won a last-minute reprieve on Thursday to delay the start of his prison term for stealing millions of dollars from his mother, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

The one-day stay of execution granted by a state appellate judge came in response to the latest in a series of attempts by Marshall's lawyers to keep him of out of prison.

In the latest turn in a case that shed a rare light on New York's high society, Marshall was ordered to appear before Judge Kirke Bartley in state Supreme Court in Manhattan on Friday to begin serving the 1- to 3-year prison sentence for grand larceny and other charges.

Marshall, who was a Broadway producer, U.S. diplomat and decorated war hero, had originally been scheduled to turn himself in to the Manhattan court on Thursday to start serving his prison term.

Instead, only his co-defendant, former estates lawyer Francis Morrissey, 72, who was convicted of forging Astor's signature, appeared in court. He was taken away in handcuffs to begin serving his 1- to 3-year prison term.

Marshall and Morrissey were convicted in 2009 of looting the estate of Brooke Astor, whose fortune was estimated to be worth around $200 million. The beloved philanthropist, whose causes included the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, died in 2007 at the age of 105.

Under Astor's will, her only child - Marshall - stood to inherit tens of millions of dollars. Prosecutors presented a case accusing him of looting his mother's estate while she suffered from Alzheimer's disease. After he was convicted of grand larceny, fraud and other charges in 2009, he instead received a settlement of $14.4 million.

Earlier this week, Marshall's defense team asked Judge Bartley to vacate his conviction after a juror recanted her vote in a sworn affidavit. In the affidavit, juror No. 8, Judi DeMarco, said she had been coerced to cast a guilty vote.

On Thursday, Judge Bartley denied Marshall's motion for a new trial.

"With my experience as a prosecutor for 20-plus years, I know something about fear and intimidation," the judge said. "And it simply does not exist in this case."

(Reporting by Francesca Trianni; Editing by Richard Chang)

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