By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – State Rep. Brian Aldridge’s attorney said his client will vigorously fight a grand larceny indictment.
“Brian has not committed a crime,” said Tupelo attorney T.K. Moffett. “In the end, the truth will prevail.”
Aldridge, 36, turned himself in Thursday afternoon at the Lee County Sheriff’s Department after returning from a mission trip to Tennessee. He was released a short time later on a $5,000 bond.
His parents, Louis Aldridge and Janice Aldridge, are charged with embezzlement connected to the mishandling of the estate of Florence Aldridge, which was the subject of a lengthy civil trial in 2011.
The couple divorced last November.
Louis Aldridge, 64, is charged with three counts of embezzlement, while Janice Aldridge, 61, is charged with two counts of embezzlement.
They turned themselves in Tuesday and were released on a $5,000 bond each.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s Public Integrity Division brought the charges to a Lee County grand jury for the indictments dated June 28 and revealed Thursday.
Aldridge, a Republican from Tupelo, has held his House seat since 2004. If convicted, he likely will be required to resign. Moffett said Aldridge has no plans to step down.
Florence Aldridge, the widow of Louis’ brother, came to Tupelo in 2005 after her husband’s death. Louis and Janice promised to care for her while she suffered deep depression complicated by bipolar disorder. In 2008, she discovered nearly all of her $700,000 assets and family treasures were gone.
Louis Aldridge held power of attorney over her estate.
In the civil trial, the judge found that Louis Aldridge had acted with “monumental impropriety” and was ordered to repay $552,000 and his former charity, Touched By An Angel Ministries Inc., to pay $140,000 Louis funneled through it.
The judge found Brian Aldridge, TBAAM’s executive director, not personally liable. However, Aldridge was ordered to repay $218,000 that Louis Aldridge directed to the Lee County camp ministry. Aldridge has appealed that ruling to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Under Florida law – where the power of attorney was executed – money should not have been given to a ministry, Moffett said.
“Brian never had power of attorney; Brian didn’t sign any checks,” Moffett said. “He has not intentionally taken anything from anyone.”
If convicted, all three could face up to 10 years in prison per each count.
Patsy Brumfield contributed to this story.