Francis Morrissey, Lawyer to Brooke Astor, Indicted

Francis X. Morrissey Jr., 65, a New York attorney formally turned himself in to face criminal charges related to the alleged bilking of philanthropist Brooke Astor’s $198 million estate — with the alleged cooperation of her son Anthony Marshall. This is not the first time Morrissey has faced such allegations.

Morrissey’s charges involve a 2004 will that he executed and various charges that he forged Astor, who died at 105, has Alzheimer’s disease.In the 1990s, Morrissey was suspended from practicing law for taking $925,000 from a client’s escrow account without permission.

Remarkably, he was reinstated to practice law and curiously found others like Marshall who saw him as an ideal choice for representation. He was previously accused of undue influence over elderly clients.  Yet, the respected firm of Sullivan & Cromwell was replaced despite a long history with Astor. Morrisey’s suspension was ordered by  the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court suspended him on Nov 16, 1995.  The case involved a Spanish company, Mar Oil Company. Morrisey demanded $960,000 in fees traced back to 1983 and, when they refused, he simply took the money from an escrow account.He also developed a reputation for befriending the wealth and elderly.  

More recently, he was accused of wrongdoing by an administration of a 91-year-old wealthy widow living on Park Avenue.  The administrator stated that her will “was procured by the undue influence and fraud of Morrissey and others acting in concert with him.” Yet, Mr. Morrissey still received a significant amount of the money in the will.

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