passport.jpgAnthony Marshall, the son of the late Brooke Astor, might have chosen a different lawyer if he suspected that he'd be eventually accused of looting his mother's estate. Or perhaps Francis X. Morrissey was the perfect man for the job. Papers are reporting today that Marshall's lawyer has a long history of profiting from soon-to-be-deceased clients. He was in court yesterday, arriving handcuffed, but leaving free on bail.

It would seem to be the darkest moment in the career of a lawyer who over the years has gained a reputation for ingratiating himself to older people and finding his way into their wills or trusts, mostly as a beneficiary, but also as an executor or a trustee.

Morrissey's client, Anthony Marshall and Brooke Astor's son, has been accused of making self-benefiting changes to her will while she was not fully cognizant of what she was signing due to mental incapacity. Now, Morrissey has been charged in an 18-point indictment of helping Marshall bilk his mother's estate.

Morrissey is pleading not guilty in the case. He was withdrew his application to the California state bar nine years ago for reasons that remain confidential and was suspended for two years after taking almost a million dollars from a client's escrow account without permission. Both Morrissey and Marshall are named in the suit regarding Brooke Astor's estate.

According to The New York Times, Morissey's career is speckled with sordid behavior. He's already been accused of taking advantage of several elderly and mentally incompetent clients to his financial gain. One case involved allegedly wooing an elderly alcoholic woman who bequested an annuity worth $100,000 to him, because she said she she was in love with him.

Anthony Marshall continues to behave in a sketchy manner. He's out on bail while under indictment, but when asked to surrender his passport to prevent him from fleeing the country he turned over his expired passport, retaining his valid one. The Manhattan DA's office is none too happy with the chicanery and wants to tighten his bail restrictions as well as conduct an inquiry. It seems unlikely that was an honest mistake on Marshall's part.