By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – Judge Michael Malski denied Rep. Brian Aldridge’s request Friday for a new trial over repayment to his aunt for money Aldridge’s father and mother plundered from her estate.
A few months ago, Malski ordered Aldridge to pay Florence Aldridge $218,355 for money that came to him and his charity, Touched By An Angel Ministries Inc., from Aldridge’s father, Louis, who had his sister-in-law’s power of attorney while she was ill.
Louis Aldridge and his wife, Janice, were ordered last December to repay her $522,000 and Touched By An Angel Ministries Inc. to repay her $140,100.
In the Prentiss County Courthouse courtroom, Brian Aldridge’s attorney, T.K. Moffett of Tupelo, argued that his client should not be responsible for money given to him and the charity when his client didn’t know its source.
“Florence was not just a charitable donor to TBAAM, she was his aunt, the sister-in-law of Louis, who was essentially robbing her,” Malski said as he denied the motion for a new trial. “Louis was the CFO of the corporation that Brian was charged with management as CEO. Even if Brian had not known source of funds to TBAAM or the many thousands channeled through it from a dissolved corporation from which he benefited, even if he didn’t, he should have.
“His liability is only to the funds that were laundered through TBAAM or came to it.”
Moffett could not be reached later to say if he planned to appeal Malski’s decision.
At the end of a 2011 trial, the Tupelo state legislator was dismissed from financial damages against his aunt. But in May, Malski changed his mind in response to an appeal by Florence Aldridge’s attorneys, Rhett and Frank Russell of Tupelo.
Florence Aldridge, 67, who is the widow of Louis’ brother, claimed the Aldridges and the charity Brian runs misappropriated more than $550,000 and other property from her while Louis held her power of attorney.
Initial court testimony also showed that 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.
In May, 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.
TBAAM Inc. operates a camp ministry for disabled children and adults near Tupelo. His father once was its chief financial officer.
Moffett said no proof exists of Brian Aldridge’s personal involvement in Florence Aldridge’s losses.