Judge orders Rep. Aldridge to pay more than $200K to aunt

TUPELO — A state judge yesterday ordered Rep. Brian Aldridge to pay more than $200,000 to his aunt, whose estate was plundered by his father who held her power of attorney and ultimately wiped it out.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports Chancellor Michael Malski ordered Aldridge to pay Florence Aldridge $218,355. Malski said that even though Aldridge was not personally liable for the more than $522,000 she lost as a result of actions by his father, Louis Aldridge, he was responsible for what happened through their charity, which Louis Aldridge funneled some of her money.

Brian Aldridge, R-Tupelo, is CEO of Touched By An Angel Ministries, Inc., which operates a camp for disabled children and adults near Tupelo. Louis Aldridge was once the charity’s chief financial officer.

“Brian breached his duty as an officer of Touched By An Angel Ministries Inc. and is individually liable to Florence,” Malski wrote in ordering the total judgment amended.

T.K. Moffett, of Tupelo, an attorney who represents Brian Aldridge, could not be reached for comment yesterrday.

Florence Aldridge, 67, a Tupelo piano teacher, sued her nephew, his mother Janice Aldridge and his father, a few years ago after she discovered that the estate she’d entrusted to Louis Aldridge, her brother-in-law, was gone.

Last December, Malski ordered Louis and Janice Aldridge to repay Florence Aldridge $552,000 and the charity Touched By An Angel Ministries Inc. to repay her $140,100 which came from the woman’s estate. However, the judge dismissed Brian Aldridge from any financial damages, saying that while the legislator should have known about the source of the charity’s finances as its chief executive officer he had no legal obligations to his aunt.

Wednesday’s ruling was in response to a request by Florence Aldridge’s attorneys, Rhett and Frank Russell of Tupelo, to return him to the damages judgment.

Malski’s new total includes the $140,100 Louis Aldridge deposited into the charity from her estate, plus another $78,355 he flowed into the charity from his legally defunct for-profit business, TBAAM Enterprises Inc.

In their eight-page request to the court, the Russells argued that Mississippi law deems participants in a defunct corporate entity liable for its debts and claims. Florence Aldridge also asked that her nephew be declared liable, claiming he “fraudulently and unlawfully” benefited from her estate as the charity’s CEO.

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