Aldridges back in court over woman’s assets

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

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FULTON – Florence Aldridge brings her family lawsuit back to chancery court today.
Aldridge, 67, claims her relatives – Louis Aldridge and his wife Janice, and their son, state Rep. Brian Aldridge, all of Tupelo, and the charity he runs – misappropriated more than $550,000 and other property from her while Louis held her power of attorney.
The case resumes today because its Aug. 23 start in Lee County was interrupted by Louis and Janice Aldridge’s filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy the morning the lawsuit began.
A month later, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge lifted an automatic stay to allow the lawsuit to continue, although assets cannot be distributed without the federal court’s permission.
It’s under way in Itawamba County because that’s where presiding Judge Michael Malski is in court this week.
Court begins at 9 a.m. with two days allocated for the proceedings.
While Louis and Janice Aldridge now have their assets protected against claims, Brian Aldridge and his Touched By An Angel Ministries Inc. of Tupelo have no such protection. The charity was set up by the Aldridges in 1996 and Brian is its chief executive officer.
Florence Aldridge is represented by attorneys Frank and Rhett Russell of Tupelo. T.K. Moffett of Tupelo represents Brian Aldridge, with Tim Hudson of Columbus the couple’s attorney.
Brian, Louis and Janice Aldridge deny they misappropriated Florence’s assets while she was ill, mostly in their care.
From 2003 to mid-2008, Louis Aldridge had complete control over her property with power to make financial decisions in her best interest.
Court records state that when Florence recovered and realized her assets were gone, she revoked the POA and asked for a full accounting.
She asks the court to order actual damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.
Initial court testimony showed that Touched By An Angel Ministries received $140,100 from her estate while a parallel entity, TBAAM Enterprises Inc., run by Louis Aldridge, received $371,656 while he held power over the estate. Total disbursements to the three and the “Angel” organizations came to $552,212.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com