TUPELO – State Rep. Brian Aldridge owes $218,355 to his aunt, whose estate was plundered by Brian’s father while he had her power of attorney.
Chancellor Michael Malski today ordered Brian to pay Florence Aldridge the money because, the judge said, even though Brian was not personally liable for the more than $522,000 she lost to Louis Aldridge, Brian was legally responsible for whatever happened through the charity through which Louis funneled some of her money.
Brian is chief executive officer of Touched By An Angel Ministries Inc., which operates a camp for disabled children and adults near Tupelo. His father was once the charity’s chief financial officer.
“Brian breached his duty as an officer of Touched By An Angel Ministries Inc. and is individually liable to Florence,” Malski wrote in ordering the total judgment amended.
Brian’s attorney, T.K. Moffett of Tupelo, could not be reached for comment immediately after the order was filed.
Florence, a 67-year-old Tupelo piano teacher, sued Brian, Louis and Louis’ wife Janice a few years ago after she discovered that her estate she’d entrusted to Louis, her brother-in-law, was gone.
Last December, Malski ordered Louis and Janice to repay Florence $552,000 and the charity Touched By An Angel Ministries Inc. to repay her $140,100 which came from Florence’s estate.
However, the judge dismissed Brian from any financial damages, saying that while the legislator should have known about the source of the charity’s finances as its chief executive officer, he had no legal obligations to his aunt.
Today’s ruling answers Florence’s attorneys, Rhett and Frank Russell of Tupelo, who came back to court to return Brian to the damages judgment.
Malski’s total comes from $140,100 Louis deposited into the charity from Florence’s estate, plus another $78,355 Louis flowed into the charity from his legally defunct for-profit business, TBAAM Enterprises Inc. It wasn’t immediately clear why the total wasn’t $218,455.
In their eight-page request to the court, the Russells insisted that Mississippi law deems participants in a defunct corporate entity liable for its debts and claims.
Florence also asked for Brian’s liability when she claimed he “fraudulently and unlawfully” benefited from her estate as the charity’s CEO.
Patsy R. Brumfield
May 24, 2012