Aldridges wrangle over widow’s alleged losses

TUPELO – Touched by an Angel Ministries Inc. and three Aldridge family members face accusations of fraud in a Lee County lawsuit filed by an elderly relative.
The dispute comes from Florence A. Aldridge’s claims that she lost $250,000 or more, and other property, while Louis Aldridge of Tupelo had her durable power of attorney from Jan. 22, 2003, until Nov. 12, 2008.
Also named defendants in the lawsuit are Janice Aldridge, who is Louis Aldrige’s’ wife, and the charity run by their son, state Rep. Brian Aldridge.
In January 2003, then-Florida resident Florence Aldridge gave her durable power of attorney to Louis Aldridge, her brother-in-law. She revoked the authority Nov. 12, 2008.
Florence Aldridge wants an accounting of what happened to her assets, while they were in Louis Aldridge’s care, and the return of money and personal property, such as her mother’s diamond watch, coins and mink capes.
She also wants compensation for other damages and for them to pay punitive damages, her attorney’s fees and interest.
Power of attorney is legally granted from one person to another to act in specific ways in the grantor’s behalf. Florence Aldridge gave Louis Aldridge virtually complete control over every aspect of her life and property, although always with her best interests in mind.
The defendants deny her claims and ask that the lawsuit be dismissed.
Brian Aldridge’s attorney, T.K. Moffett of Tupelo, said he plans to ask the court to dismiss the case on ground that it’s too late to sue them.
Moffett admitted the charity received a “gift” from the assets but insisted Touched by an Angel never was accused of its misuse or anything else improper.
“It’s a good ministry – 175 children were helped this summer,” Moffett noted. “Unfortunately, Touched by an Angel has been caught in a dispute between Louis Aldridge and his sister-in-law.”
Touched by an Angel Ministries Inc. of Tupelo operates a camp for the disabled. Brian Aldridge is listed as its chief executive officer.
Chancellor Michael Malski is presiding over the case.
In her amended complaint, filed April 28 in Lee County Chancery Court, Florence Aldridge claims that after she gave her power of attorney to Louis Aldridge, he sold her house, filed incorrect tax returns for her, took over the life insurance proceeds from her husband’s death and forged her signature to checks “contrary to her best interest.”
She claims all three of her relatives were part of Touched by an Angel, which received the $250,000. She also says they conspired and used $11,000 of her money to finance two separate vacations to Hawaii, spent $1,000 at a Tupelo men’s store and paid nearly $22,000 to “TBAAM Enterprises Inc.,” which was dissolved by the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office in 2004.
Tim Hudson of Columbus, attorney for the others, was not available for comment.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal