NEW YORK — Philanthropist Brooke Astor's 85-year-old son can stay out of prison while he appeals his conviction for looting his mother's fortune, an appeals judge ruled Monday.
The judge approved Anthony Marshall's request to stay free on bail during an appeal that could take years.
The ailing Marshall was sentenced last month to one to three years in prison – the minimum term his conviction required. At the time, a judge gave him until Jan. 19 to report to prison.
He was convicted of taking advantage of Astor's failing mind to steal millions from her nearly $200 million fortune. She died at 105 in 2007.
The appellate court raised Marshall's bond from $100,000 to $500,000; he needed to post only $5,000 in cash.
Considered the grand dame of New York society, Astor gave away nearly $200 million to institutions and charities. Her philanthropy won her a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1998.
She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2000, and prosecutors said Marshall exploited her advancing dementia to pluck artwork off her walls, award himself a more than $1 million raise for managing her money and persuade her to change her will to reward him at the expense of charities.
Marshall's lawyers said she knowingly altered her will to benefit her only child, and he had the legal power to give himself the raise and other gifts with his mother's money when she was alive. He believed Astor wanted him to have the money and items he was convicted of stealing, they said.
After a five-month trial that featured testimony from such Astor friends as Henry Kissinger and Barbara Walters, a jury convicted Marshall of a roster of offenses including grand larceny and scheming to defraud.
His attorneys have said any prison time could kill Marshall, who suffers from heart problems and other ailments. His wife has said he suffered a mini-stroke during his trial; at another point during the proceeding, he had to be rushed to a hospital after falling in a courthouse men's room.
Marshall, a decorated World War II veteran who was wounded in the battle of Iwo Jima, later became a U.S. ambassador and Broadway producer.
Marshall didn't testify or call any witnesses at his trial. After being convicted, he broached his resume, medical troubles and a star-studded list of supporters – including Whoopi Goldberg and Al Roker – in a bid to remain free.
Meanwhile, a fight over Astor's estate continues in civil court, pitting Marshall against several charities. It was on hold during the criminal case.