TUPELO – State Rep. Brian Aldridge and his parents appeared before a circuit court judge on charges they intentionally took money from a relative’s estate without her permission.
Aldridge, 36, and his mother, Janice, 61, were instructed by Judge Thomas Gardner to add a surety, or someone obligated for their $5,000 recognizance bonds. Tupelo attorney Brent McBride was with them in court.
Brian Aldridge’s father, Louis, 64, convinced Gardner he was unable to afford an attorney, so the judge appointed Public Defender Adam Pinkard to assist him.
All three pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Louis Aldridge told Gardner he is bankrupt, has no assets and cannot find a private attorney who will take his case.
“One said he wanted $50,000 – judge, I don’t have $50,000,” he said Friday morning in the Lee County Justice Center courtroom.
Gardner also told them he scheduled their cases to come up during the October term of circuit court.
The formerly married couple and their son are accused of illegally taking funds from bank accounts owned by Florence Aldridge, Louis’ widowed sister-in-law.
She gave Louis her legal power of attorney for several years while she was incapacitated and unable to make personal and financial decisions on her own.
Brian Aldridge is charged with one count of grand larceny and his parents on multiple charges of embezzlement.
The Republican member of the Mississippi House representing part of Lee County faces resignation if he’s convicted on the charge.
Stanley Alexander of Jackson, director of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division, attended the arraignments. His office, which brought the charges to the Lee County grand jury, will prosecute the cases.
A civil lawsuit wrapped up in 2012 showed more than $522,000 gutted from Florence Aldridge’s estate.
All the Aldridge defendants were ordered by Chancellor Michael Malski to repay her.
However, Louis and Janice, who later divorced, declared bankruptcy and the legislator’s state salary was garnished to assist the woman, now in a Pontotoc County nursing home.
If convicted, they face prison time and fines.
Scores of others filled the downtown Tupelo courtroom to answer their indictments.
The August term of circuit court begins in about a week.