By Patsy R. Brumfield / Daily Journal
1:45 P.M. UPDATE
TUPELO – Chancellor Michael Malski said today that Florence Aldridge is owed her estate and personal goods spent by Louis Aldridge and other family members. (Details below)
"The truth has reigned," she said immediately after the decision.
Whether she'll ever see any money is questionable.
Florence Aldridge, 67, sued her brother-in-law, Louis Aldridge, his wife, Janice, their son state Rep. Brian Aldridge and his charity, Touch By An Angel Ministries, saying that her $550,000-plus estate and personal items were taken by Louis and spent on or by the four defendants while Louis had her power of attorney.
The trial began last August but was halted abruptly when Louis and Janice Aldridge filed for bankruptcy protection. It resumed Dec. 7 in Fulton, then wrapped up today in Tupelo.
Frank and Rhett Russell of Tupelo represent Florence Aldridge. Attorneys are Tim Hudson of Columbus for Louis and Janice, and T.K. Moffett of Tupelo for Brian and the charity.
Whether the losing side will appeal was not immediately known.
• • •
(Below is a running account from the courtroom. Please excuse the typos and glitches likely to occur when I type as fast as I can.) Two other updates below it reflect court action this morning in the Lee County Justice Center.
1:29 - Moffett tells Rhett Russell they’ve got Flo Aldridge’s furs in the car - to remind him to get them. Courtroom crowd has swelled to about 20.
1:39 - Judge enters courtroom.
JUDGE – As I have ... some of the attorneys have heard me say - finest judge I ever knew was Fred Wright, before he would render a decision, he would ask the attorneys, “You don’t want to argue, do you?” If anybody does, I will hear it.
I’m going to render my deicision. Opportunity to review the first large group of exhibits after our first day of trial, and I’e made an effort to review those today. Difficult to make a ruling from the bench to put all evidence together. Court reserves right to make other findings of fact.
With exception of Florida cases I’ll make references to, I’ll leave out citations. If necessary, before finally concluded to make a more thorough written opinion. With that in mind, not smooth, court will try to make some sense out of the evidence.
Without any hint of disrespect, I’ll refer to her as Florence, him as Louis, wife as Janice, son as Brian and Touch as TBAAM. Will refer to corporation, for profit, as TBAAM Enterprises. Matter before court is case in which she has sued Louis, Janice, Brian and TBAAM Inc. Proof reveals that she is 67, until Jan. 2005 lived in Florida with husband, who died in 2001. Almost same time as his death, her mother died and her son suffers from mental illness. She became depressed, long history of bipolar disease no doubt contributed. Under care of a doctor and attempted suicide twice. On Jan. 22, still in Florida, she executed durable power of attorney, appointed Louis as acting on her behalf.
POA said he would act for her benefit, as fiduciary. Also provided governed by laws of Florida. Louis offered to bring her to Mississippi and watch over her. He and wife assured that they would attend to everything. On Jan. 1, 2005, Louis drove her to Mississippi. Lived with them for one year, then she moved into camper behind their home. Proof she had option of living there or a future apartment on land owned by TBAAM. But Florence said she was afraid to move away and lived in campus. Her mental state did not improve, hospitalized at least twice. Shock treatment during this time. She wasn’t permitted to drive. Today, testimony from Janice that Florence was driving for a while, but she didn’t leave until 2008. Appears she was completely dependent upon them. Louis handled all her financial affairs.
Florence’s mental condition dramatically changed in 2007. New medication, she felt much more normal. However, Louis never provided financial information to her. Eventual explanation was that all her money had been spent on her health needs. In Florida, she mentioned it to a friend of her husband, an accountant, who became concerned. He told her she was covered by health insurance so no need to invade her assets. She tried to get information about her finances but couldn’t find out until she filed suit was in December 2008. Before discussing the extent of Louis’ LOOTING her assets, should talk about TBAAM.
TBAAM established for a very laudable purposes. A 501 charity, and received 2.5 acres from Janice out of her 66 acres she inherited. Sleeping facility for campers, other facilities. Several years later, Louis formed TBAAM Enterprises Inc., by himself and wife, as a for-profit corp. Not part of TBAAM, set up to do catering etc. on the property. In theory, it was designed to make profits for TBAAM. Louis was the CFO of TBAAM until 2010. His son Brian, a legislator, became CEO when he was 19. He is 34 now. Brian claims he had no knowledge of his father’s activities. Although he loves his father, he said he’s had many personality conflicts with his father. Claims he was unaware of source of funds for TBAAM or Enterprises. Father ran TBAAM until 2010, and although he was exec, he was unaware of $35K in unpaid taxes, overdraft fees and didn’t know about charity’s website or what was in its tax returns. Put in front of him and he signed them. Stated differently, tho he was CEO, all information controlled by Louis.
Brian testified that secretary could ahve gotten info if he had asked, but he didn’t. SOS initiated an investigation of TBAAM in Jan. 2010. By August, TBAAM lost recognition as charity. Now regained tax exempt status. Louis and Janice banned from any future involvement with charity. Louis and Janice apparently were Enterprises officers, she was an incorporator. Although it was administratively dissolved in 2004, the bank account(s) continued under its name with Louis’ social security number. Business rarely showed a profit after its dissolution. Exhibit 37 shows invoices of TBAAM Enterprises. Amazingly, there are thousands of income but simply not reflected on tax returns of individual under whose name Enterprises operated.
Also, but not going there, thousands of dollars of sales tax reflected on invoices. Question if any sales tax ever paid to Mississippi. However, with respect to TBAAM, Enterprises showed a profit only one year. It owned no property, few assets. Checks were signed on its account by Louis, Janice, Brian. Louis began using POA to transfer Flo’s considerable assets. Florence had good credit, home in Florida, two cars, considerable cash in bank. Using POA, home sold and assets transferred to Enterprises and to lesser extent TBAAM. Louis, Brian and Janice enjoyed those funds. Bought timeshare, went to Hawaii, other trips, paid for personal debts, clothing, cruise, skiing trips, payments for motels and cash to casinos.
Apparently tuition of one relative was paid. Brian’s honeymoon was paid. Payments on personal notes and mortgages, car repairs, contributions to Republican Party. Louis deposited $100K-plus into TBAAM, some transferred to Enterprises. Using POA he drained it then depsoited a similar sum into accounts he controlled. Few of those disbursements made for or on behalf of Florence. Written out but not for Florence. Other actions reflect Louis’ monumental improprierty and malfeasance. He caused her home to be sold. He cahsed in aCD for $30K and penalty incurred for early withdrawal. He failed to report on her 2007 taxes, which he prepared. She is still paying that tax liability.
Accounts controlled by Louis incurred thousands of overdraft fees. Used TBAAM checks and Enterprises to cover overdrafts - called check kiting and is a criminal action. An area of inquiry, he invoked 5th Amendment. Louis and Janice were spending her money, Louis failed to report spending on his own tax returns. What has been result? Florence has been reduced from comfort to a widow woman with poor credit, rents apartment with no retirement savings, continues to work, littl eincome except social security and small pension while she pays off tax lien caused by Louis.
A POA does not evidence a confidential relationship. In this case, durable power signed by her provided that Louis would act as a fiduciary. Even if no durable power, whenever relationship between two with one in position to exercise inflouence on the other because of one’s dependence from weakness of mind or body or trust, the law says it’s fiduciary. It may arise when one party imposes a special trust in another so first party relaxes the care that she normall would exercise for herself. A key element is that fiduciary’s control of property, such as home or money, must be managed by the dominant party. It is difficult for this court to imagine a more clearcut example of a fiduciary relationship than this one. Dominant Louis to whom no one said no without consequences was in a position to exercise a dominant infuence over Florence. She was bipolar. She would have a special trust in her husband’s brother. Necessary to control her assets. She went further with durable POA. Janice occupied a similar position, without a signed agreement. Let her come to Tupelo and “cared for her like a child.” You owe a special responsibility when caring for a child. She also actively participated in TBAAM Enterprises and clearly enjoyed the funds transferred by her husband. Court doesn’t find a fiduciary relationshiup ever existed between Florence and Brian.
TBAAM formed for laudable purpose. Louis was CFO, answerable to it. He wore two hats. He was Florence’s attorney in fact and CFO of TBAAM - taking assets from her, giving them to the very organization he was the officer over. He claims he had her permission to give $140K to TBAAM. However, the rule is that POA must be strictly construed, only for those power which are specified. (Cites Florida decisions - agent cannot make gift of his principal property to himself or others unless expressly authorized in the powers. General POA does not include power to make a gift. PIOA clearly did not specifically authorize its use to make a gift.
Court also notes there is clearly traceable to Non profit $40-45K of Florence’s money. Tied up on TBAAM land. Existence of fiduciary relationship and what constitutes it, is a question of fact. Burden lies on party asserting it. She has met her burden. No evidence that she ever received the advice of a competent person devoted solely to her best interests.
With these findings, court awards jdugments in favor of Florence actual against Louis and Janice of $552,000. Against TBAAM $140,100. Requested an offset for care which was provided, value disallowed for these reason - value was never proven, MS doesn’t recognized it without written agreement. Also discussion of co-mingling funds for TBAAM and Enterprises, doesn’t jibe with tax returns in evidence.
So, court has allowed judgments in both amounts. Actual, next considers punitive, which are not recoverable without actual damages. Punitive determined by certain factors - what is appropriate punishment to deter future acts. Court also mindful that MS Code 11-1-65 requires that once actual awarded, court must schedule a separate hearing on punitive. I invite the attorneys to contact the court admin to find a date.
In reviewing my notes, I am hestitant to ask reporter to type it up, some personal items which Florence said she left in Louis/Janice’s care. Ask attorneys to confer about return of them in 10 days.
Russell, any questions? No
Moffett? (Moffett - everything she listed my clients do not have.) If they have her personal property, they need to get it back to her. Can leave at Russell’s office. If items are not there, when we have hearing, evidence can be brought up about where they are or their value.
Russell - ask if we can bring attorneys fees? Judge - court only can do after consideration of punitive damages.
Hudson was recused with my approval. 2:12 p.m. court in recess.
• • •
TUPELO – Judge Michael Malski said just before a lunch break that he will rule on Florence Aldridge's lawsuit against her relatives about 1:30 p.m.
(Below is a running account in two parts from hearing testimony today.)
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HUDSON - Calls Rena Fredericks.
RUSSELL - Object. (HUDSON - I didn’t know about her, Moffett subpoenaed. Offer her to show what reasonable cost would be to take care of a person such as Mrs. Florence Aldridge.)
JUDGE - When we this person discovered to be called? Moffett, did you tell Russell about her? MOFFETT - I am not going to call her.
JUDGE - Hudson, we don’t conduct trials by ambush. Sorry, Mrs. Fredericks.
JUDGE - Hudson, call your next witness. (Hudson- if she testifies, she would inform the court she is an RN with psychiatric care. Knows Aldridge, met her, familiar with her. Cost for caring for someone like her if $25 per house during day.) Judge - well noted.
HUDSON – Call Louis Aldridge.
LOUIS - 11:02 - (Hudson- bro-in-law of Flo?) Yes. (As to your relationship? Court has heard all this, dates and times? Do you dispute any of those time frames?) No sir. (So, as starting point, who requested that you handle her affairs?) David Cook, the doctor psychologist in Lakeland, Fla. treating her. She was present. She agreed. Agreed to accept POA and handle her affairs. (Also reviewed her financial documents, money transferred into accounts in Tupelo?) Yes. (Amounts alleged the beginnings? Do you dispute them? Figure of $561K total that was money she had when she... when you took over.) I dispute that. (Reviewed her records and calculations?) Yes. (This document, beginning balances?) Yes, on 1/1/05. Consists of deposits to banks, financial group - $284,418.90. Also sold her house, at her request. (Exact amount?) Recollection of $125K. (Those two figures, investments and sale, added?) $409,480, where I added it up. (Offers as an exhibit - Russell, Moffett - no objection.)
(Were you, did you set up TBAAM Enterprises?) No, it’s TBAAM Enterprises, not Touch by an Angel Enterprises. Operated is as a for-profit. (Basically a caterer?) Yes. (Is that entity from time to time take in income?) Yes, banquets, proms, parties, weddings, different things. Operated over 7-8 years. Never really ran a profit on balance sheet. Money taken in and returned to TBAAM, it helped fund it. (Ever receive any personal gain money from Enterprises?) I received some, yes. (What was wife’s role?) Doing cooking, planning, selling of events. (Did she make corporate decisions?) No. (Your involvement with TBAAM?) For years, I was CFO. (Did you answer to any one?) Board of directors. (Brian on board?) No. (Began relinquishing control to Brian?) Yes, began basically 3-4 years ago started but not all of it until the last few articles ran in the paper about Touch By An Angel, started in 2010. (What did you agree to do for your sister-in-law?) Move her into our home, take care of her until she died, build her an apartment on TBAAM property. She was going to live there without rent for rest of her life. Built it. She never lived in it. (Judge - how much did TBAAM use that apartment? How much spent on it?) Approximately $40-45K. (Hudson - large part of her money transferred to TBAAM. Your decision?) No. To use by TBAAM. (Was she aware of it?) At one time, probably 2006 or 2007. (No protest?) No sir. (Was your wife involved with these decisions or transfers? Son?) No sir, no sir. (You and Flo?) Yes sir. (Did you for about 44 months provide full care for Flo?) Yes. (At all times ready and willing to continue that care?) Yes. (Who’s idea was it to cease it?) Hers, Flo Aldridge’s.
(Mr. Aldridge, I earlier asked you about TBAAM Enterprises earned money? Documents?) These are invoices for different events we had. Charges for them. Everything was paid but $10K. One event didn’t pay. (Russell - object. We had motions to produce. They weren’t until Sunday or this morning.) Judge - will let them come in but point out that while Aldridge says they are Enterprises invoices and paid, with exception, there isn’t a similar group of invoices for expenses. I don’t know what value they will have. Best indicator for earnings is reflected in the tax returns. They are exhibits 2005 until 2009. They certainly don’t reflect that income by these invoices. I’m going to let them come in for whatever value. Exhibit 36.
HUDSON - (Judge - Exhibit 36 may want to inquire further. Aldridge you said you have documents for beginning of Flo’s accounts. Gave totals. You have attached documents with balances. I might add that Russell’s figures only show it had $98K, which is $20K less than you show. You don’t have, with these accounts, nothing to show what she had in Wachovia. Do you have that?) Yes sir, no it’s in there. (Judge - well, this is dated well after POA and after she moved up here. Shows accounts had declined in three months from $44K to $7K. You’re welcome to look at it. June 20, 2005 ... shows $41K of her money in three months is gone. Doesn’t show what account was worth on 1/1/2005. Any records to show?) Hudson asks to approach, give to Louis Aldridge.
LOUIS - If you look at account numbers, each is different. At side, you see amounts. (Judge- do you have what she had on 1/1/2005?) All I have 12/23/04 dated. (Hudson - When we were in Fulton, you testified?) Yes. (In that examination by Russell, did you interpret his questions as accusation that TBAAM was a shell but acted as conduit?) Yes sir. (Is this document to show it was active and soliciting services?) Yes.
MOFFETT - (Let’s talk about Flo’s knowledge... knew about money to TBAAM?) Yes. (You said in 2007? What did she know about what doing with her money?) Basically, she said she didn’t want to know, to take care of it. Tried to discuss with her on several occasions. (That were giving money to TBAAM?) Yes. (During time, did she have access to mail?) Yes. (Access to bank statements?) Yes. (Do you know if she looked at them?) Only thing she looked at were get-well cards. Not at bank statements. Attempted to show them to her, for a period of time and then I quit. (If Flo had wanted to discover where her money was going, could she have done that?) Yes. (Did she approve the gifts to TBAAM?) Yes. (Heard her say she was aware and approved building of apartment.) First came up with Florida doctor, to use $40 to build it, she would live in it. She was shown diagram of layout. She agreed to all of it. Talked about colors, floor covering, appliances she would want there. Began to build it... I want to say fall of 2005. (Was she involved? To what extent?) (Russell - Asked and answered several times before. Judge - Mr. Moffett, heard it. Know about $40-45K used to construct it. Go ahead).
(Moffett -- Allegations about Flo that $1500 paid to Brian. Did you discuss it with Flo?) I did on the $1K... that it was a wedding gifts. (Did Brian have any authority to sign for Flo?) No. (Did Brian ever sign a check on Flo’s account?) No. (Before writing Flo checks to TBAAM, did you discuss with Brian?) NO sir. (During this time, with POA, did you tell Brian the source of TBAAM donations?) No. (During time using Flo’s funds to TBAAM, did board or Brian know source?) No, sir. (Did Brian get salary from TBAAM?) No. (Did Brian know about Flor money to Enterprises?) No. His signature was on card, that’s about all. (Enterprises had other sources of income? Were those incomes from other sources co-mingled with Flo’s?) Yes. (They say Brian got $12K. Can you tell where it came from?) No sir. (During this time, who opened TBAAM mail?) I did. (Who wrote thanks?) Office manager, form letter with tax receipt. Brian’s name stamped on there. SOS in consent order had to stop using the stamp.
(Moffett - during Brian’s questioning in Fulton, he was asked about website. Who set it up?) Board member with my knowledge. (Who sent information about camp?) From SOS office, forms required every year. (2005 report. When was website set up?) 2004 or 2005. (Percentage shows funds to camp?) Shows 99%. In 2004, 92%. (Moffett offers documents into evidence.) (Frank Russell - objects, we just saw these. Judge - documents will be received as Exhibit 38.)
(Moffett - 11:31 - How did you calculate percentages?) May I look at document again? The ’05 calculated from services divided into administrative costs. Other one, I took total expenses and divided into costs. Provided it for website. Those is my handwriting on those, to SOS. (During time, how much annually did TBAAM receive from contributors beside yourself, Flo?) About $70K. (According to Exhibit 34 - shows Janice got $7K from 04-10 and Brian got $10,990 - is that all Brian was paid during that time?) Yes sir. (Describe what he was going for TBAAM?) His job was to recruit churches for youth teams, mission groups to serve as counselors and caregivers to special needs campers, adults. Clean, make sure buildings clean. Some groups left about 10 a.m. Saturday and have another in about 4-6 p.m. Had to plan each camp, activities. Bible Studies, riding horse, fishing, games, plan prom for kids, make sure limo came out to pick them up by barn and drive them to main entrance, drop them off for carriage ride, arts and crafts, fishing, water activities. Also, had to provide the care. Caregivers weren’t required to .. if they soiled themselves with feces, Brian was the one to clean them up. Daily showers. 18 hour days.
(Moffett - wants to show video with Brian taking care of campers) Frank Russell - we stipulated it was good ministry. Judge - no question Brian was directly involved with campers Objection sustained.
(Moffett - During this time, were you frequently gone? Did Brian go to churches in Texas or other places about being caregivers?) Yes, lot of times he would have to make multiple trips. So, yes, he traveled to several different states. (Allegations that you, Janice, Brian sat around and conspired to steal Flo’s money to use it for your individual purposes. Was Brian ever involved?) No sir (Conspiracy?) No. (Did Janice?) No. She cared for Flo. (Did you ever intend to take her money and use it inappropriately?) NO sir, understood responsibilities as POA (F Russell - objects>)
FRANK RUSSELL - (Cross-examination) (I understand about figures, you provide one on one page and use a separate figure on another page. You testify that Flo gave you permission to use money as you saw fit?) Yes. (She was committed in 05 and 06?) Yes. (She was going to shock treatment then? In Hospital here then? Do you think she had the mental capacity to agree to instruct you to do whatever you wished?) She had more mental capacity than you think she had. (Only thing in writing, about building an apartment on charity’s land? Anything in writing for her to agree to build this?) (Moffett - objects, she admitted she agreed to that? Judge- overruled. He’s on cross. But if such a document, court would like to see it.)
(Did you have anything in writing about apartment and life stay?) No sir. (Anything in writing concerning whether she would pay you and your wife for care, food, transportation at your house?) No, it was verbal. (All we have is POA, signed by her, that authorized you to do certain things?) Correct. (No further questions.)
HUDSON - (What was the verbal agreement?) Made in Dr. Cook’s office, that she would pay $750 per month .... RUSSELL - object, asked him about verbal, not this. Judge - will let him go.) (Anything else?) Other than the $40K, she would live there for the rest of her life. We would take care of her.
JUDGE - You may stand down. Hudson, anything else? (Hudson- we rest)
11:45 - I have to go to the state hospital to do a commitment. Moffett says he rests.
I’m going to try to render a decision from the bench at 1:30.
• • •
TUPELO – Janice Aldridge denied knowing much about her sister-in-law's finances, other than money she claimed was spent on Florence Aldridge's behalf.
"We took excellent care of her," she said today in Chancery Court in Lee County.
Florence Aldridge’s lawsuit against three family members and their Tupelo-based charity returned to chancery court today.
She is suing her brother-in-law, Louis Aldridge, his wife, Janice, and their son, state Rep. Brian Aldridge, and Touch By An Angel charity. She claims that while Louis had her power of attorney, the three misappropriated more than $550,000 and personal items.
Today’s court action, presided over by Chancellor Michael Malski, is Day Three in a disjointed hearing, which began in August but was delayed when Louis and Janice Aldridge filed for bankruptcy. It resumed in Itawamba County on Dec. 7, then recessed to Lee County because their attorney, Tim Hudson of Columbus, accidentally over-scheduled himself for Dec. 8.
Florence, 67, is represented by Tupelo attorneys Frank and Rhett Russell. Brian Aldridge and the charity are represented by T.K. Moffett of Tupelo.
• • •
9:30 - Judge enters Lee County Justice Center courtroom. (About 10 women are in the audience to support Florence. Two women, two men sit on the opposite side of the audience area. Can’t tell about their allegiances at this point.)
JUDGE - Apologizes for late start. We were last before the court on this matter. Russell said close to resting but wanted to wait for return.
RHETT RUSSELL - Calls Janice Aldridge.
RUSSELL - has documents, copy of story in Daily Journal 4/24/06, also disbursements from Flo Aldridge accounts, full copy of SOS report on charity, IRS 990 tax return, summary of overdrafts of TBAAM Inc. taken from bank documents already in evidence, commitment papers that Louis said he took out on Flo, summary of disbursements of TBAAM taken from checks and statements already in evidence, summary of yearly receipts from defendants. Asks they be introduced into evidence.)
JUDGE - Says probably better to take them one at a time. Exhibit 10 - DJ article. Received. (walk through rest of documents - no defense objections. Hudson objects to summary of overdrafts, says maybe not wise but doesn’t have anything to do with this case. Moffett objects, relevancy. Judge - Exhibit 30, 34 - punitive damages are requested in this case. My opinion that relevant code sections requires court to consider and inquire into the net worth of a corporation. While it may not be direct proof, the number of overdrafts by TBAAM, even distant in time, may well be indicative of the net worth and financial position, if this court elects to award punitive damages. Court will receive them. Also Exhibit 35, yearly breakdown of much Janice/Louis received. Exhibit 32 - affidavit of commitment from 2006. Seems a cumulative piece of evidence. Moffett, Hudson do not object.
Once again, because of punitive damages question, the code seems to imply that court must consider net worth of defendants and also of party seeking it. Gentlemen, you may wish to object to Exhibit 33. Court will note objection. Is list of items what she wants back or total of her assets? (Russell - I pulled it back. 33 was previously entered as No. 15, didn’t want to duplicate it. I withdraw 33.) On 35, Hudson? Hudson - supporting documents, this is a compilation. No objections. Moffett - no objections. Receive No. 35.
(Ready for Janice Aldridge).
JANICE - Resides in Lee County. Married to Louis. Brian is son, 34 years old. Lives down street from them. His fiance lived with us for a time. He lived in his house. Been in court throughout testimony. His brother, David, married to Flo, lived in Florida. Didn’t see each other because of the distance but they talked frequently on the phone. They got along. (No falling out? Because counterfeiting of father-in-law? Moffett - objects. Judge - I’m inclined to agree. What in the world about a falling out, somewhat immaterial. In 1993, Mrs. Aldridge executed durable power of atty for Louis to act in a fiduciary capacity for her affairs. Objection is sustained.)
David passed away in 2001. POA executed in 2003? Not sure. (End of 2004 or early 2005, Florence moved to Lee County at your urging?) Yes, and of her psychiatrist. (Took Flo to REgions for joint account that you could sign?) Yes, she asked me to. (Shock treatment in 2006, in Region II?) Yes, don’t remember exactly when. (Knew she was bipolar?) Yes, but doctors also said she played on people’s emotions, that she wasn’t depressed but seeking attention. Liked to have pity parties. (Shock treatment?) She did like it. (Started taking Depakote. Started being her own self?) She said that but she had her keys before that, majority of the time she lived with us. She went to the library all the time, do e-mails to friends back in Florida, go and get a hamburger or go to different music things. She stayed in that car a lot. She had keys well before the month she left.
(Exhibit 1 - bank accounts maintained by you, husband and son. Shows TBAAM had three, TBAAM Enterprises had 4, you and Brian had 2, you and Louis had 2, Louis had separate. Why so many?) I have no idea. I just, as Louis told me, to sign a card, signature card. I signed it. I did what I was told. (Exhibit 15 - shows summary of Flo’s money to you $5,640. Explain that?) Say that again. (Her money traced to you out of $550K. You received $5640) I can’t explain it. She had me write checks. She would have me do things because she was tired or didn’t feel like writing it. She would cry and cry about it. To satisfy her, I would do what she asked. (Exhibit 15 - list of these checks. $4K check you wrote to yourself for cash, 12/12/06. Remember that?) She told me. If I did it, she told me to. Absolutely. Probably getting Christmas presents. (Money to you was directed by her? Pay yourself?) No, I’m saying she wanted cash for herself. We got money for Christmas gifts, she had work done on her Mercedes, work done on her Toyota. She would buy clothes. She wanted plenty of cash on her.
(Numerous debit charges at grocery stores, places in the mall. Remember using her card?) Carried her to grocery, carried her to the mall. We’d find her sitting by a man in the Shoe Department. (All of them, you signed, they weren’t for your own benefit?) No sir, I did not. (Buying groceries for the house?) She paid for a few of her own groceries. She bought clothes at Walmart, sweat pants and various and sundry things., Shampoo. Toiletries. She liked to buy a lot of bottled water. She always wanted you to pick it up because it was too much of a strain on her.
(TBAAM Inc. - a nonprofit corp?) Yes. (Any involvement?) No. (Why would SOS direct that you cease involvement with it?) I guess for some records ... I didn’t do anything wrong with TBAAM. It’s a very good organization. I didn’t do anything wrong. (We’re talking about how money was disbursed from that good organization. Exhibit 34 - shows TBAAM gave you $9, 100. Why?) Probably paying back loans that I had given it over the years, well well exceeding that. I have given money over and over, overage of that many times to help pay notes or buy food for camp, and I would get it back. That would be what that would be for. (Judge - any records of what you contributed to corporation? You say you got back $9K for loans. Any records of loans you made?) I would write on checks, for a loan. Noted when I paid it. (With you today?) NO I don/t.
(Louis said he was CFO for 14 years, then Brian started taking over.) Know Brian started taking over but not that he fully took over. (Any information to dispute what he said about Brian with TBAAM? Husband said he was CFO for 14 years until June 2010. Correct?) Yes. (Said Brian took over three or four years ago, about 2008, as exec director, runs it?) Brian started taking over, not fully. (Husband said under oath that he never made any decisions with TBAAM without talking to Brian?) Prior to 2010? No, he made the decisions without checking with Brian.
(Also, Louis said TBAAM never was in debt except to Pontotoc bank? Any other?) Right now? (Ever had?) Well, they were doing bank note at BancorpSouth. (Paying note by Aldridge family?) No, that was camp. They did not have the money ... we had the credit to get a loan, to borrow the money. WE borrowed it for TBAAM, they were paying it off, It’s in minutes, approved by the board. Never an officer. (Wasn’t Louis better to know about indebtedness. On the board?) No, I’ve never been in an executive position. (Let’s look at TBAAM Enterprises Inc. When formed?) I don’t know. (In exhibits, we’re showing that SOS states that two years after it was formed in 2002, in 2004 it was administratively dissolved. Dispute that?) I don’t know. (Picks up exhibit No. 29 - SOS website shows TBAAM Enterprises Inc.?) Yes, it’s right there. Formed 12/1/02. (HUDSON objects - she’s already reading into record what’s already in record.) JUDGE - already heard this. (Russell - got one point to make) Judge - why do I need her to read it? (Russell - were you an incorporator for this corporation?) I don’t know.
Judge - Never issued stock. (Were you incorporator?) Guess I was. (You maintained bank accounts for non-existent corporation?) So Brian could get to any money, if we died. His name was strictly on there in case of our deaths. (Who’s money was that in the account?) Me, I guess. (Brian on accounts of several banks? He wrote checks on them?) No, don’t deny he’s on signature card. Told you why. (Let’s go to accounts. Louis bought a new car in 2008? Recall? Repeated question for her.) Not exactly, what kind was it? (You’re still driving it I believe.) I’m driving a silver .... (Russell - records show on March 30, 2005, Blackmon Chevy paid from Enterprises account? Remember?) NO, I don’t. (Another $7K a week later to them?) No, don’t. (Ever ask him about buying new cars?) Sir, we had money coming in. (Did you ask him where money in Enterprises came from?) It came from banquets. It came form wedding receptions. I know where they came from.
(Your husband under oath, as to Enterprises, said he was prez and you sec-treasurer. Said Enterprises never had any profits, doesn’t own land. He’s saying no profits. Is he wrong or you?) I didn’t run records, books. I just worked in the kitchen. You’re going to have to ask him that. (Enterprises was a shadow of a former corporation?) OK. (Enterprises paid for Brian’s honeymoon in Hawaii?) I don’t know. (Records?) If shows, then it did. (Car work?) MOFFETT - OBJECT. Judge - I’ve heard all this before.
(Who paid for your trips to Grand Cayman?) We did. (Did Enterprises check pay for it?) WE paid with our own money. WE had jobs. (Russell - record shows checks for Grand Cayman, cruise, ski trip, Los Angeles trip, Hawaii..... Moffett - object. Judge - I’ve heard all this before, Mr. Russell.) (Records show TBAAM transferred to Enterprises $83K. Know why?) No, I don’t. (Husband testified that check to INC were insurance checks?) I don’t know. (Recollect Louis getting, asking $160K would gain from INC investments?) I don’t. (Recognize any type plan or memory of a plan for your husband in Feb. 2005 for investment purposes?) No. (Joint tax returns 2005-2008... remember that?) Yes. (Russell hands her each tax return, signed by both. Asks her to read above signature.) Under penalty of perjury, examined return, to best of my knowledge statements are true and complete. (Husband for 2005, listed income from consultant. Office in house?) Yes, he does. (Was that total income $22K? If he said it came from repayment of money to corporation, correct?) I don’t know. If he said it, I would assume it’s true. I don’t know. That’s 2006, I couldn’t tell you what was going on then, six years ago.
(Reads off Exhibit 35 - $69K income from Flo or TBAAM Enterprises or TBAAM Inc. Shows her return. None of this money on that tax return?) I couldn’t tell you. Husband prepared the return. (2006 he shows loss of $1700. You got pension. You made trips in 2006 off that income?) WE also had points we used. (When bought timeshare?) Don’t remember the year. (Paid $15K down and $15K per year as long as you had it?) I don’t remember. (Exhibit 35 - $21K you and husband received from Flo, Enterprises or TBAAM - not reported on income tax returns?) I don’t know. I didn’t put together any of the returns, I did sign them but I didn’t prepare them. (But you read statement - under oath) To best of my knowledge, it was true. (OK, in 2007 - under-reported money from Flo, Enterprises or TBAAM?) I don’t know whether to dispute it or not. (In 2008, you and husband got $48K from Enterprises, TBAAM or directly from Flo not shown on tax returns?) I don’t know. If it’s not on there, I’d assume so. I don’t know if it’s reflected on there.
(Russell - Tenders the witness.)
HUDSON begins cross-examination.
10:17 - (what does an incorporator do?) Only thing I know is they ... I don’t know. ... they do paper work and file the papers and that’s about all I know. Remember him doing things like that. I didn’t. (what did you do for TBAAM Enterprises?) I did banquets, receptions. I talked to people, set up wedding receptions, what we could offer them. Met with them about space for room. (Were you involved in planning?) Yes. (Besides that, any other tasks?) Prepared food, set up for the event. (Got paycheck for that?) No. (From Enterprises?) I did some... I mean, I’d go buy groceries. (Did you have an employee pay check?) No. (Did you... were you involved with keeping books?) No. (To your knowledge, Enterprises made money from events?) Yes. (Who was in control?) Louis. (According to Exhibit 15 - compilation ...seen it before?) I don’t think I have. (Are you listed? What is total amount you allegedly received from Flo?) $5,640. All I know would be checks she had me cash for various things she would be doing, getting gifts. She liked to buy gifts. (What period of time?) Pretty much whole time ... 2004 to 2008. Four years.
(What were you doing for Flo during this 4 years?) I carried her to doctor, saw that she had her medicine every day. I bathed her. Washed hair, cooked her food, took care of her cat, tried to do what the doctor/psychiatrist wanted done. She would balk on him. We had a weekly conference calls with doctor in Florida. Talking to him about whatever was on his/her minds. He would tell her to have responsibilities around house. She would dust a room, he said. She would pitch a fit. She would cry. Her mother never made her do house work. All she wanted to do was play the piano. Over time, I finally quit trying to honor doc requests. She broke some of my antique furniture. I did everything for her thaT you would do for a child. I waited on her hand and foot. (This money - taken for your benefit?) No sir. (That’s all I have.)
MOFFETT - 10:24 - (A couple of things.. you and Louis have two children?) Yes, Brian and Amanda. (All Brian was involved with TBAAM since age 20, who ran ministry until recently?) Louis, made all financial decisions. (Brian operated all the camps?) Yes. (You, I think , said you sometimes provided food for camp?) Yes. (Earlier, Russell asked you about $9K to you from TBAAM, Exhibit 34 - indicates in summary that in 2004 to 2010 Janice Aldridge got $7K from TBAAM. Various checks to Janice as payback. Do you remember those checks?) I don’t remember specific checks. I would go buy groceries, would reimburse me for camp. Many times, I’d be out and they’d call for supplies. I’d go buy it and they’d reimburse. (All those six years, you only got $7,070 total from TBAAM?) Yes. (Not paid anything?) No, never. (During those years. shows Brian received $10,090 during that time. Dispute it?) Say it’s accurate. (In six years, was Brian spending most of time at camp, outside of Legislature?) Yes, all his time. (Anybody else working that long for that little money?) I don’t know anybody else with the heart or the passion for it. What he does at camp, getting grounds ready, his arms deep in feces and urine, getting on floor and playing with the campers. Passionately talking to parents, calling them about something funny at camp. Question about their meds. He spends hours and hours, working with them.
(Did Brian have anything to do with Flo coming to live with you and Louis, or her money or accounts?) No, sir. Absolutely not. (According to records, Brian got $1,500 from Flo. Know about that?) No. (That Brian received a total of $12K from Enterprises? Know anything?) From Enterprises, it would be from banquet money, not from Flo’s money. (Louis wrote some of her money into Enterprises. Any way to know what was hers, what was from other places? Possible to distinguish between?) Brian's would have come ... only thing I know... his would be directly after a banquet. (Did TBAAM, nonprofit, have anything to do with Flo, her money, her POA, her living with you?) NO sir. (What about the building on grounds, Flo said she approved. When she came to live with you, did Louis get your permission?) We talked about it. (Did you agree to provide these services?) I agreed. I didn’t think it would take as long. Didn’t think it would be as hard. She didn’t fulfill her end of what she was suppose to do, helping. Expected to be waited on. To crawl all over my husband like she did, rubbed all over him. (Judge - You know, but Mrs. Aldridge. A POA was signed in 2003. Your testimony was that my husband, Flo’s psychiatrist and I wanted her to come to MS. We would take care of her. Assuming she did exactly what you said, crawled all over him. She’s under psychiatric care. Bipolar diagnosis, periods of great depression and periods of manic inappropriate behavior. Assuming she did not things. Did you and husband not realize that this is a woman with severe problems? Did you now realize that? That she needed greater care and assistance than someone who could act on their own. That wasn’t taking shock treatments? That was just like those people your son was devoted to take care of, people who weren’t quite right? Did you not realize that? Not proof that Flo needed special care and attention?) I gave her very special attention.
MOFFETT - (Did you continue to do that until she left?) Yes sir. (Mentioned you took her places, did things with her. Brian involved?) No. (With family dynamics?) No. (Did TBAAM continue with camps during this time?) Yes. (Moffett confers with Brian at defense table. Brian’s sitting beside his father.) (MOFFETT - Janice, you mentioned you had income.) I’m a retired ... can’t tell what she said. (Land? Inherited?) Yes, 66 acres. 2.5 deeded to the ministry, where buildings are located. Balance of land still in her name, mortgaged. Was debt free when inherited it. Now owes $124-125K. (Ministry, does it use land for camp?) Yes, welcome to use any of it. I gave permission. (Understand judge’s question - did you do everything to take care of Flo?) I did everything I knew to do. I’ve tried to follow the doctor’s rules. Tried to do exactly what he said. We brought her back and to health. She wouldn’t be in the shape today if we had not taken care of her. Brought her back to health. We took excellent care of her.
RUSSELL - (Just one question. Did you take care of $500K?) JUDGE - That’s argumentative question. You may stand down.
RUSSELL - WE REST. 10:40 a.m.
JUDGE - I see some people who need to talk to me. 15 minute recess. Hudson, time?
HUDSON - Very short witness, probably 30 minutes.
MOFFETT - Less than 30 minutes.
JUDGE - May try to render decision today.
10:41 - recess
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