The Leigh Morse trial has turned into a bit of spectacle during the jury phase, which is saying something. The trial was overshadowed by Robert De Niro’s testimony but the jurors clearly had plenty of histrionics to deal with during their own deliberations.
The resulting verdict didn’t help Morse much. She was found guilty of selling $5 million worth of art without informing the owners which is fraud and could carry a four-year sentence. However, she was acquitted of larceny charges related to her having been paid out of the proceeds of sales that belonged to De Niro.
That might not help her much as the DA is making noises that don’t suggest leniency if this quote from Reuters’s coverage is anything to go by:
“Because the art industry is largely unregulated, it is particularly important to hold accountable those who fraudulently handle works of art entrusted to them,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance in a statement.
It would appear that Morse was lucky to get acquitted of the larceny charges, according to the New York Daily News. The paper interviewed one juror who seemed to be in thrall to De Niro’s stardom and another, Maureen White, seemed in thrall to her own self-importance.
White, who is a major Democratic fundraiser and spouse of Michael Bloomberg’s money manager, spoke for Morse’s acquittal on larceny charges as three holdouts sought a conviction. One of the jurors now claims he was bullied by White into an acquittal because she had to get back to her work at the State Department:
“We worked hard for five weeks, and the last two days we were stuck, and I was feeling guilty,” said White, who is married to financier Steven Rattner.
“The reason is I have left my colleagues to pick up the slack in my absence,” said White, who works on issues related to Afghanistan and Pakistan. I also feel a responsibility because I work on problems and policies dealing with 20 million refugees and internally displaced people.”
Manhattan Art Dealer Leigh Morse Acquitted of Scamming De Niro (NY Daily News)