Rep. Aldridge asks judge for new trial over repayment to aunt's estate

By Patsy R. Brumfield

UPDATE: Malski overrules Aldridge’s motion for new trial.
(Come back for more details shortly.)
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Patsy R. Brumfield
Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – Chancelor Michael Malski will weigh new motions this morning for a trial trial for Rep. Brian Aldridge of Tupelo, whom he ordered o repay his aunt for money Aldridge’s father and mother plundered from his aunt’s estate.
A few months ago, Malski ordered Aldridge to pay Florence Aldridge $218,355.

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.

Mrs. Aldridge, 67, who is the widow of Louis’ brother, claims the Aldridges and the charity Brian runs – misappropriated more than $550,000 and other property from her while Louis held her power of attorney.
T.K. Moffett of Tupelo represents Brian Aldridge, with Tim Hudson of Columbus the couple’s attorney.
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 asked 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.

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.

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, Moffett of Tupelo says 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 wrote in a motion.

He compared 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.

patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com