Anthony Marshall, age 89, will soon be the oldest person in New York to start serving a prison sentence for a nonviolent felony. His crime? Marshall was convicted of stealing money from his mother’s estate while she suffered dementia. The mother, famed New York philanthropist Brooke Astor, died at the age of 105. Marshall’s age may make him the oldest person to ever be convicted of inheritance fraud.
Although Marshall’s age makes this case unusual, inheritance fraud is sadly an everyday occurrence. It can occur before or after death. The person charged with the crime is often a family member or caregiver.
Prior to his conviction, Marshall was a well known Broadway director and a former U.S. ambassador. As an only child, Marshall stood to gain tens of millions from his mother’s estate after her death. Instead, he evidently began helping himself to her money while she was still alive but too incapacitated to know what was happening. Published reports say he was convicted after his two sons – Brooke Astor’s grandchildren – say he took the money to satisfy a much younger new wife.
Whatever the reasons for the crime, Marshall is headed to prison. He was sentenced several years ago to a 1 to 3 year term but appeals have kept him out of jail. Having exhausted those appeals, he begins serving the sentence tomorrow. Given his age, he may serve the serve the sentence in a New York State prison nursing home.
Inheritance fraud is a particularly insidious crime. We expect our loved ones to care for us when we are no longer able to do so. instead, some family members simply can’t control their greed. Unless other family members are vigilant, the criminals committing inheritance fraud are often never caught or prosecuted.
It’s not just family members. We have also seen case where home health aides and neighbors have committed inheritance fraud or forged wills. Whether getting the elderly or incapacitated victim to sign a new will or simply stealing money while and property while they are still alive, inheritance fraud is becoming more common.
As the first of the baby boomers have now reached age 65, the problem will probably get worse in the next several years.
If you believe that someone has improperly denied you the fair share of a will or estate or if you feel a loved one was unduly influenced to give away his or her assets to someone else, give us a call immediately. The time to act is often quite limited.
The fraud lawyers at Mahany & Ertl specialize in all types of fraud including probate and inheritance fraud. Let us help you get back what is rightfully yours or protect your loved one’s final wishes.. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731 (direct). All inquiries kept in strict confidence.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco, California. Services available in many jurisdictions.
Need more information including helpful suggestions to detect these frauds? Check out this post on undue influence or use the search engine located in the upper right corner of our Due Diligence blog.
Posted by Brian Mahany