| NEW YORK, July 19
NEW YORK, July 19 (Reuters Life!) - Former art gallery
director Leigh Morse escaped a lengthy prison term on Tuesday
but will owe $1.65 million in restitution for defrauding
Morse, whose sentencing in Manhattan criminal court capped
a trial that saw actor Robert DeNiro testify against her, will
spend weekends in confinement for four months and serve
probation for five years.
Morse, 55, was found guilty in April of selling more than
80 works of art from four estates for approximately $5 million
without informing the owners.
She was cleared of larceny stemming from allegations she
sold several paintings by DeNiro's father, the late Robert
DeNiro Sr., without paying the actor.
Morse worked for art dealer Lawrence Salander, who pleaded
guilty last year to orchestrating an art investment scam that
netted more than $100 million from DeNiro, tennis legend John
McEnroe, Bank of America Corp and well known figures in the art
Salander, whose gallery closed in 2007, was sentenced to
six to 18 years in prison and ordered to pay $120 million in
Judge Michael Obus said Morse's conduct went beyond simply
failing to report Salander's conduct into active
"This was a betrayal of trust," he said.
But in her favor, he noted her clean criminal record, her
lack of professional censure prior to the scheme and her
responsibilities to her husband, who is ill.
Assistant District Attorney Micki Hendricks, backed by
representatives from the victimized estates who spoke at the
hearing, sought 1 to 3 years in prison and $9 million in
Morse, in a brief statement, said she was "deeply sorry"
for the pain her clients had endured but maintained that she
was unaware of Salander's conduct.
(Editing by Noeleen Walder and Ellen Wulfhorst)