Anthony Marshall accused of larceny over painting in Brooke Astor trial

Brooke Astor's former lawyer said Anthony Marshall claimed his mother wanted to give him her beloved Childe Hassam painting and that "he would like to have it."Henry Christensen said that when he went to see Astor a week later in January 2000, she told him a completely different story. "She said she didn't want to give it to him" and still intended to donate it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he testified Wednesday at Marshall's fraud trial. Two years later, Marshall improperly sold the painting to a Manhattan gallery for $10 million and paid himself a $2 million commission, prosecutors charge. It is the most serious larceny charge against Marshall - and could send him to jail for 25 years. Prosecutors say Christensen was canned after balking at making changes that Marshall demanded, including a January 2004 update that gave Astor's son $60 million outright - money that had been earmarked for charity. Christensen, who started working for Astor in 1991, said Marshall told him in 2000 that Astor had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. He said soon after Astor began talking about selling her valuable painting. "She said something about needing the money, and I said, 'You don't need the money,'" he said. "She said, 'I need more money, I'm going to sell the painting.'" Christensen said he thought Astor was joking. Two years later, the lawyer said, Astor changed her 2002 will to give her son $5 million in cash - and a diamond necklace and mink and chinchilla coats for his wife, Charlene. Christensen said Marshall told him it was his mom's idea - and that she'd also changed her mind about leaving her prized emerald necklace to gal pal Annette de la Renta. The lawyer said he was taken aback because Astor didn't just loathe her daughter-in-law - she cut her out of her will in 1993, Christensen said. Marshall, 84, and co-defendant Francis Morrissey, 66, deny they took advantage of Astor's senility to plunder her $185 million fortune. She died two years ago at age 105. Continue Reading

Larceny charges for Howard Stern guest

A frequent guest on the Howard Stern radio show was charged Friday with stealing more than $3,000 from a friend by putting unauthorized charges on his credit card.Erik Bleaman, 37, of Manhattan, who is known as High Pitch for his falsetto voice, was released without bail after being charged with two counts of grand larceny. Bleaman is accused of using his pal's Discover card multiple times between May 4 and June 15. A law enforcement source said the friend filed a complaint after learning that Bleaman's name was on an Amtrak ticket purchased with his card. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

‘Thelma and Louise’ pair are arraigned on grand larceny, theft charges

They stole for the thrill of it. The devious Thelma and Louise duo busted for posing as apartment buyers to swipe diamonds and furs from swanky city pads are "good girls" who seem to get a kick out of doing bad, relatives and friends said Monday. Far from desperadoes, Jessica Joyner, 39, and Jennifer Jones, 33, are from well-to-do families, but authorities think they forged a wayward bond to support their mutual addictions to prescription drugs, a source said. Nonetheless, the source added, "they gave each other up in a heartbeat." Joyner and Jones, both upper East Siders, were arraigned Monday in Manhattan Criminal Court on grand larceny, possession of stolen property and attempted larceny charges. They face up to three years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors said their crime spree wasn't limited to fancy Manhattan neighborhoods. They face similar charges in Bergen County, N.J., where they are suspected of pulling their open-house hustle in ritzy Upper Saddle River, prosecutors said. "Both of them outlined how they did it, and the police were able to confirm some details," Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Mao Lin said. He said the pair would don designer duds and wigs to finagle themselves into the multimillion-dollar homes they allegedly looted. One would distract the real estate agent while the other rifled the apartments for expensive handbags, diamond and gold jewelry, and name-brand clothes, prosecutors said."It was just a thrill for her," said a relative of Joyner.The relative, who requested anonymity, described Joyner as a life-long kleptomaniac. "She used to steal people's luggage off the luggage carousel at the airport and bring it home," the relative said.The relative said Joyner would wander through drugstores filling a baby carriage with facial creams and other high-end goods and then boast about her shoplifting.Yet, Joyner's mother, Laura Rothman, described her as a law-abiding soccer mom of a 13-year-old Continue Reading

Firefighter faces larceny rap

A veteran city firefighter was busted Monday for lying about going to physical therapy and collecting $7,500 in pay when he didn't show up, investigators said.John Dimino, 45, who has worked for the FDNY for 18 years, faces up to 12 years in prison if he is convicted of grand larceny and falsifying business records. Dimino makes $68,470 a year. He is the third firefighter arrested since June for lying about his work hours. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Man charged with grand larceny for stealing $2 M from guy with same name

The Brooklyn man charged with taking more than $2 million from an account of a man with the same name is ready to explain to a grand jury that it was all a mistake.Benjamin Lovell, who was charged this week with grand larceny, maintains he tried unsuccessfully to give the money back, his relatives have said. "He didn't intend to steal from anyone," said Julie Fry, his Legal Aid Society attorney. "Based on what the bank told him, he really believed the money was his." Lovell will tell the grand jury on Wednesday how the bank assured him he could have the money, she said. A Commerce Bank mistakenly gave Benjamin A. Lovell of Bedford-Stuyvesant access to a $5.8 million account of Woodlawn Trustees Inc., which lists shoe mogul Benjamin S. Lovell of Wilmington, Del., as a director. Prosecutors say the New York Lovell, a married father of four who works as a salesman for KeySpan Energy, withdrew $2.1 million from the other man's account since Dec. 14 and blew it all on bad investments, jewelry for a girlfriend, dental implants, vitamins and colonics. Lovell's family was scrambling yesterday to get him released from Rikers Island on $10,000 cash bail. The new amount was set by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Alan Marrus, who reduced it from the $1 million set on Tuesday by another judge. The Delaware Lovell did not return a call seeking comment. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Seductive con woman gets 1 to 3 for larceny

A sweet-talking grifter who conned an 82-year-old East Side philanthropist out of more than $200,000 by posing as a nurse was sentenced yesterday to one to three years in prison. Janet Costello, 30, pleaded guilty to grand larceny in Manhattan Supreme Court for ripping off Joseph Gossner, a widower who cut her fat checks after she sold him a sob story about being uninsured and stuck with bills for breast cancer treatment. "She lied to me," Gossner said yesterday. "I'm sorry she did something so stupid." Given a chance to speak in court, Costello opted to stay quiet. Gossner, who sits on the board of the Metropolitan Opera, fell under Costello's spell soon after she arrived at his E. 50th St. townhouse dressed as a nurse. For months she paid Gossner regular visits, snowing him with tales of medical misery. She used some of Gossner's money to buy herself a Hummer that she later traded in for a Cadillac Escalade. Even after figuring out he was being used - and that Costello did not have cancer - the courtly patron of the arts kept seeing her. "She was desperate to marry me to stay out of jail," said Gossner, whose wife died in 2002. "I'm 82 - I don't think I'm going to marry again." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading


A MANHATTAN MONSIGNOR admitted yesterday he stole thousands of dollars from his upper East Side church coffers to support a lavish lifestyle of fancy watches, fine dining and European golfing trips. Msgr. John Woolsey, 68, who yesterday formally resigned as pastor of St. John the Martyr church on E. 72nd St., faces up to five years in prison and could be ordered to pay back nearly $1 million when sentenced Sept. 22. His lawyer blamed his troubles on a "psychological condition" that will be discussed at sentencing. Prosecutors contend he transferred nearly $837,000 from church accounts to his personal Citibank account and to pay his American Express bill. Parishioners said they gave Woolsey donations ranging from $10,000 to $500,000, according to court records. Woolsey, who pleaded guilty to grand larceny yesterday, spent his booty on cosmetic dentistry, golfing trips to Europe, and Breitling and Rolex watches - even as the parish was cutting back on services to the homeless, prosecutors charged. "The defendant has committed a crime of greed, manipulation and opportunism," Assistant District Attorney Matthew Amatruda told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Bruce Allen. "He abused his position of trust." Woolsey, who smiled as he stood before the judge, said he has already paid back $100,000. His lawyer, Nicholas DeFeis, maintains that Woolsey stole far less than prosecutors claim. His guilty plea only required him to say he took more than $50,000. It will be up to the judge to decide how much he should pay back. "While I believe that I was entitled to spend some of this money on myself," Woolsey told the judge, "I recognize that the amount I spent on myself exceeded any lawful entitlement." Woolsey, who was wearing a dark jacket and black mock turtleneck, was apologetic. "Much to my chagrin and sorrow," he said in a statement handed out by his lawyer, "I failed in my responsibility to properly administer the finances of the parish. Indeed, I took Continue Reading

Judge may toss petit larceny charges against teen menace Franklin Reyes Jr.

Apartment looting charges against the teen troublemaker who fatally mowed down 4-year-old Ariel Russo may soon get tossed because witnesses are out of the country. The petit larceny case against 19-year-old Franklin Reyes Jr. and his father Franklin Reyes Sr., a former building superintendent in Chelsea, is in jeopardy because two eyewitnesses are unavailable until February, prosecutors said Wednesday. Assistant District Attorney Chidinma Ume reported prosecutors are not ready for trial because of that problem. “I have been in contact with one of the eyewitnesses pretty closely,” Ume said. “He is willing to come to New York to testify but not until February of next year.” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Gregory Carro indicated he would likely have to dismiss the case on speedy trial grounds. “I have a feeling we are going to dispose of this case before February,” Carro said. “Unless you have some extraordinary circumstance, I don’t know how you survive a [speedy trial] motion.” Reyes pleaded guilty to manslaughter, assault, fleeing a police officer and escape charges for the June 4, 2013 Russo death and later incidents. On Aug. 31, he drove again without a license and dragged a cop 100 feet during a stop. While jailed in September, he tried to escape the custody of district attorney investigators who brought him to the hospital after he complained of chest pains. Any time behind bars he would get for the June 2014 misdemeanor heist of a dead tenant’s belongings would likely run concurrent to the 3-to-9 years he will get for the previous plea. In court, the younger Reyes’ lawyer Gary Kaufman said his high-profile client — who is in protective custody in the Department of Correction awaiting his sentencing in the other cases — has been harassed by inmates after a transfer from one facility to another. Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: Ex-stripper, con man with years of experience ripping off victims faces grand larceny charges after stealing credit cards

With his unwitting victim yards away, veteran con man and ex-stripper Guy Cummings did the felony fandango with her credit cards and purse, cops say. The accused scammer, with a criminal dance card dating back more than two decades, surrendered Tuesday at the Midtown North Precinct stationhouse to face grand larceny charges. The 50-year-old former exotic dancer was decked out in a leather jacket, cowboy boots and sported an ’80s-style mullet the night he nabbed her purse and coat from a Theater District bar, his victim, Stephanie Ryan, 46, of Brielle, N.J., told the Daily News. “Like he was some kind of rock star guy,” she said. In the past, authorities said Cummings’ methods were far more elaborate — posing as a cop, a CIA agent and a mobster during a run of ripoffs. His vivid history includes tales of life as a movie actor, dodging a pack of police dogs by hiding in a pond and breathing through a reed, and penning a book and a screenplay about his life, according to a source close to the suspect. The truth was a lot less colorful than the fictions Cummings spun. About those police dogs, police at the time said Cummings was actually bitten by one of the pooches and arrested soon after. After going on the lam in 1994, Cummings billed himself as a real-life Rambo who would never be brought in alive. But police said that was just another bogus role: Cummings surrendered in May 1997 after running out of money and “people to scam” in Arizona. His most recent alleged scam took place inside the Mean Fiddler on W. 47th St. in the early morning hours of Dec. 5, officials said, after Ryan’s boyfriend left the pub. When she got up to use the bathroom, Cummings grabbed her purse and her coat and two-stepped away. The bag held three credit cards, a bank card, a cell phone and a wallet, police said. Cops gave a freezing, Continue Reading

Woman who allegedly hid Rolex in her vagina has larceny charges dismissed

Larceny charges against the woman charged with hiding a stolen Rolex in her vagina won’t stick. After a Brooklyn man heard about Shacarye Tims getting arrested at a Manhattan hotel for stealing a pricey watch from a man she was massaging, he told cops that a woman he slept with had ripped off his Rolex, too. Tims was arrested last November in the second Rolex theft, but the charges were dismissed Friday after Brooklyn prosecutors conceded they didn’t have a case. Defense lawyer David Epstein said after he reviewed the surveillance video from a bank and the man’s Fort Greene apartment building it was clear that Tims was not the woman on the tape. “My client is tall and slender and the woman in the video is at least 40 pounds heavier and very voluptuous and Rubenseque,” Epstein said. “I appreciate the district attorney's office moved to dismiss the case, but I don’t appreciate the NYPD making an arrest without any investigation." A law enforcement source acknowledged the complainant had merely identified Tims from her mug shot that appeared in The News when she was arrested in the first case and that he did not have an independent recollection of what the woman who stole his Rolex actually looked like. Whether or not there's a second woman remains on the prowl for suckers who wear expensive wristwatches, Tims is still facing criminal charges for running off a tourist's $8,000 Rolex at the Holiday Inn hotel. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading