Morning News: Prosecutorial Overkill Threatens to Spoil Fun

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

While the nincompoops in charge at Citigroup contemplate another, more extensive round of layoffs, putting thousands of people out of a job while remaining cushily compensated themselves, the Manhattan district attorney’s office has announced the indictment of Anthony Marshall, Brooke Astor’s son. You have to have been living under a rock not to hear tell of Mr Marshall’s alleged misappropriations; in the course of administering his failing mother’s estate, Mr Marshall is said to have channeled “millions” of dollars into pockets closer to his own than was fit and proper. Together with a rapscallion-sounding amigo, formerly disbarred attorney Francis X Morrissey — with a name like that, one is either a cardinal or a criminal — the late doyenne’s octogenarian son appears to have chased thrills only guessed at by Max Bialystock (of The Producers), mounting at least two very successful shows on Broadway.

Priorities in order — check.

Surely this matter ought never have gone beyond the civil-trial stage. Mr Marshall has undoubtedly made the mistake of allowing his self-interest to do his accounting for him. It also seems that he was a bit churlish about taking care of a mother whom, unlike her circle of friends, he neither idolized nor sentimentalized. And it is almost irresistible, finally, to attribute the collapse of such respectability as he possessed to a scheming younger wife: Charlene Marshall’s ample figure appears to be an apt symbol of her willingness to consume her husband’s largesse (source: his mother’s property). This is Harry and Leona all over again, no? She‘s the one who ought to be indicted. Let the doddering old man enjoy his last years in peace!

I cannot bring myself to agree that this family tragedy without actual victims warrants the attentions of the Elder Abuse unit of the district attorney’s office. Slaps on the wrist, disgorgements all round, and a blitz of humiliation for the vicar’s ex-wife — the public circus deserves no less. But criminal sanctions betray a lack of sense, specifically a sense of humor. From the very beginning, I have found the Marshall Affair to be rich in dark humor, the tale of a geriatric Pinocchio. I’ll have to stop laughing, though, if Mr Marshall is clapped behind bars.

5 Responses to “Morning News: Prosecutorial Overkill Threatens to Spoil Fun”

  1. Fossil Darling says:

    What a blight on the memory of Mrs. Astor. Ironically, I believe I read this summer that the net value of her estate increased under the stewardship of her son. The problem of greed might have gone un-noticed had he taken care of his Mother properly.

    And I do agree that this could have been handled differently by the DA.

    As for C, well, at least someone loves us, to the tune of a $7.5bil infusion from Abu Dhabi……

  2. George says:

    It is difficult to follow this tale without a program since all the names change frequently. Anthony Dryden Marshall born Anthony Dryden Kuser is to my knowledge Ms Astor’s only natural child from her first marriage to John Kuser. One would think from Mr Marshall’s history and education that he would be somewhat more circumspect if not diligent in his handling of his mother’s funds. Perhaps Anthony should have someone write this up as a dark comedy for Broadway given his talents in that area he might just get past the disgorgements. It could make a great C&W song except for the fact that stealing from Moma is so culturally unacceptable and tends to result in rather severe retribution from Moma, when she is competent, and one’s other family members when caught. Perhaps Phil should have taken Tony deep sea fishing or elk hunting rather than going to court. A good father son chat a fifty to a hundred miles offshore or over a drink with a loaded weapon nearby often has a good result.

  3. Father Tony says:

    “Charlene Marshall’s ample figure appears to be an apt symbol of her willingness to consume her husband’s largesse.”

    RJ, you take the cake for the best line written to date about this whole misagana.
    I find particularly delicious the fact that Anthony wanted to ditch his own last name and legal become Anthony Astor, but Brooke and her husband said no to that. He is certainly not the son she would have wished for and deserved.

  4. 1904 says:

    The vicar’s wife with the ample figure consuming her husband’s largesse … Ivy Compton-Burnett could surely do no worse if she were still around and looking for material. There’s something so horrifying and compelling about the helpless destitution of the old girl in her final days — the chilly apartment, the doggy-stained slipcovers, deprived of her fancy cold-creams and hot meals as she shivers in a tatty old nightgown. The ironic (and karmic) twist surely is that the Astor money went back to the city from whence so much of it came. Most of it, at any rate, thanks to Brooke.

  5. Trent Charle says:

    A very informative post and lots of really honest and forthright comments made! This certainly got me thinking about this issue, cheers all.