More testimony on Tony’s “charitable” causes, Brooke’s mental capacity

Marshall:  ‘Charity’ Begins at Home
Laura Italiano
August 10, 2009
New York Post
Accused swindling son Anthony Marshall had a set rule when it came to the multi-million-dollar fortune of his frail mother, Brooke Astor: Charity should begin — and end — at home.

In other words, with him.

“They didn’t want her to give things away,” former Astor secretary Erica Meyer Moffitt told jurors today of how Marshall put the kibosh on the frail old woman committing any random acts of generosity not involving himself.

“She didn’t necessarily know the value of what she was giving away,” Moffitt said Marshall explained.

Not that Marshall was complaining. Prosecutors say that in 2003 and 2004, Marshall reaped the benefit of his Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother’s utter ignorance of the value of her money. So far, they’ve spent 16 weeks in Manhattan Supreme Court presenting witnesses to prove Marshall strong-armed the failing philanthropist into signing over to him more than $60 million in bequests.

“I don’t think she was in a position to change her will,” Moffitt said, when asked by prosecutor Elizabeth Loewy whether she believed Astor was competent to sign a Dec. 2003 will amendment.

Marshall put as strong a lock on his mother’s social life as he did on her spending, according to the secretary’s testimony.

By May, 2005, he issued a “Pre-Approved List” of visitors to her apartment at 778 Park Avenue. Moffitt was instructed to bar any and all of Astor’s formally huge constellation of friends from visiting the old woman with the exception of just three longtime friends — Annette de la Renta, David Rockefeller, and a hedge fund manager named Freddy Melhado.

Brooke Astor’s social secretary says socialite didn’t know what she was signing
Melissa Grace/Corky Siemaszko
August 10, 2009
New York Daily News
Brooke Astor’s former social secretary testified Monday the socialite had no idea what she was doing when she signed over her fortune to her son.

“She asked a general question, ‘should I sign this,’ to the room,” Erica Meyer Moffitt said. “She seemed to me like a child who was happy with the attention.”

Did she appear rational? “I don’t this so,” Moffitt replied.

Moffitt was the latest in a long line of witnesses to testify that Astor’s son, Anthony Marshall, took advantage of his senile mother to steal her $185 million fortune.

Marshall and lawyer pal Francis Morrissey deny doing anything wrong. They insist Astor was lucid when she signed the legal documents. She died two years ago at age 105.

Moffitt, who was hired by Marshall, served as a witness when Astor signed updated wills in 2004 that turned over control of dough to her son. He fired her a year later.

Moffitt also testified that Marshall and his wife, Charlene, controlled who was allowed to visit Astor in her Park Ave. apartment.

The ex-secretary said Marshall’s sons, Philip and Alec, were not on the list. Philip Marshall’s accusations of elder abuse led to the criminal charges.