By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – State Rep. Brian Aldridge wants a new trial in the face of steep fines over his aunt’s gutted estate.
Nearly a month ago, Chancellor Michael Malski ordered Aldridge to pay Florence Aldridge $218,355 plundered from her estate by Brian’s father, Louis, while he held her power of attorney.
Louis Aldridge and his wife, Janice, were ordered last December to repay her $522,000 and their charity, Touched By An Angel Ministries Inc., to repay her $140,100.
At the end of the 2011 trial, Brian Aldridge was dismissed from financial damages. But in May, Malski changed his mind in response to an appeal by Florence Aldridge’s attorneys, Rhett and Frank Russell of Tupelo.
Malski said Brian Aldridge should pay her, even though he was not personally liable for all her losses, because he was legally responsible for the charity through which his father funneled some of her money.
Brian Aldridge is chief executive officer of TBAAM Inc., which operates a camp ministry for disabled children and adults near Tupelo. His father once was its chief financial officer.
But now, Brian Aldridge’s attorney, T.K. Moffett of Tupelo, is asking for a new trial, saying Malski was wrong to change his mind.
“The court is now essentially finding that an officer of a charitable organization has a personal responsibility to investigate the course of contributions,” Moffett writes in a motion.
He compares that decision with church and charitable officers and boards to be held potentially liable for gifts that are from unauthorized or illegal sources.
“Surely, this is not the court’s intention,” Moffett says.
He says no proof exists of Brian Aldridge’s personal involvement in Florence Aldridge’s losses.
He also says the court erred in finding the charity liable because it has “no duty to investigation the source of contributions.”
The Russells say Brian Aldridge and the charity benefited and participated in the finances of a parallel organization, TBAAM Enterprises Inc., through which his aunt’s money flowed.