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Ex-director of New York art gallery guilty of fraud

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former art gallery director was convicted on Wednesday of defrauding clients by not paying them for sales of art work but cleared of a charge involving paintings belonging to actor Robert De Niro, authorities said.

Leigh Morse, 55, was found guilty in state Supreme Court in Manhattan of a scheme to defraud four clients for whom she sold more than 80 works of art worth approximately $5 million. by not informing them of the sales.

Morse was found not guilty of a larceny charge under which she was accused of not paying De Niro on the sale of three paintings by his late father, Robert De Niro Sr.

She had been accused of having $77,000 wired to a personal bank account after selling the works without informing the actor, who administers his father's estate.

De Niro testified at the trial last month.

For 12 years, Morse was employed by art dealer Lawrence Salander, who in March 2010 pleaded guilty to engineering a nearly $100 million art investment scam that duped De Niro, tennis great John McEnroe and major figures in the art world.

"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.

Morse faces the possibility of four years in prison when she is sentenced on June 6.

(Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr., editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune)