The estate of socialite Brooke Astor has finally been settled, AP News reports. Her will has been hotly disputed since 2007, when she died at age 105. In 2009, her son, Anthony Marshall, was convicted of manipulating Astor’s fragile dementia to make changes to the will in his favor. In the final settlement, Marshall will receive $14.5 million, nearly half of his fraudulent earnings. Much of that will have to be paid back, on account of his conviction and being a general scumbag. $100 million will go to charities, as were Astor’s original wishes. Astor was a generous philanthropist since the death of her husband, real estate magnate Vincent Astor, donating millions to the poor and to artistic pursuits. True to form, among the charities to benefit from today’s settlement is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which will receive about $20 million. All that money has been held up for nearly five years when it could have been doing something productive, which means that, overall, this is some very good news for charity.
It’s always interesting to see what an entity does with its settlement money, whether required to or not. The recent $25 billion federal mortgage settlement, although recommended to be used for debt relief and foreclosure fraud investigation, has been earmarked by states for a variety of purposes. Most notably, the state of Georgia is using their slice of the pie to boost local infrastructure projects, arguing that the settlement includes no legally binding provisions for the money’s use and paving the way for other states to do the same. Companies also pop up in the news sometimes for funneling settlement money into investment funds or, more commonly and in the interest of good press, towards charity, as is the case when Gordon Ramsay donated $66,000 USD after skipping out on a charity function. Read more →
Lockheed Martin, a long-time defense contractor, was accused by the federal government of misrepresenting the cost of tools used to build the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets. Allegedly, Lockheed subcontracted out some of the work and that subcontractor inflated the price of tools, a number that Lockheed passed on to the government despite knowing of its inaccuracy. Last Friday, Lockheed agreed to pay the government $16 million to settle the suit. The company denies any wrongdoing, claiming that they settled the suit “in an effort to close the matter in a timely manner.” Read more →
A landlord in Baltimore made quite a profit by faking property damage and suing his former renters for restitution. That is, until Hong Park, a nonprofit legal aide looking into the matter for one of the renters, found the landlord’s claims to be a little fishy. The landlord had provided supposed invoices from contractors detailing repairs to the property. Park noted some suspicions about the invoices though — namely, that they didn’t have any company logos and that they were dated when collections began, not when the renter moved out. The lawyer called up some of the referenced contractors and, lo and behold, all of the invoices were forged by the landlord. Park sent the info on to the Maryland Attorney General’s office, and some subpoenas and a class-action lawsuit later, the owner of Ager Road Station Apartments will pay a $500,000 settlement to the former renters he swindled. For anyone who’s dealt with a less-than-honorable landlord in the past, this settlement is a welcome victory.