Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall intervened in another civil lawsuit against trustees of the Mabel Amos Memorial Fund.
Marshall accused Alabama Ethics Commission executive director Thomas Albritton and other board members of the fund of fraud in a separate lawsuit filed by Amos' relatives in a civil court motion filed in late February.
According to Mobile-based Lagniappe, Albritton has "previously denied engaging in self-dealing, claiming he had abstained from voting for his kids' scholarships, and they were awarded based on merit."
Marshall filed a motion to intervene last week in a separate complaint against the trust by Tyra Lindsey, a 10th-grade student at Hillcrest High School in Evergreen, and her mother, Denese Rankin. Montgomery County Circuit Judge Brooke Reid added Marshall as a plaintiff on Friday.
Both lawsuits accuse Albritton, Regions Bank and other trustees of mismanagement of the fund's finances. The purpose of the fund is "to fund or to provide scholarships for deserving young men and women of this State [Alabama]…to assist them in attending any educational institution."
Amos' will defined "deserving" as based on the character, intelligence, scholastic record, and financial need of the student.
Amos was Secretary of State of Alabama from 1967 to 1975. She died in 1999.
According to the lawsuit, Lindsey intends to apply for a Mabel Amos scholarship that would "give her the financial assistance needed to attend college."
Byron Mathews, Lindsey's attorney, asks in the lawsuit for the trustee and board members to be removed, a special fiduciary to be appointed to take possession of the trust and give an account to the Court as to the money the Trust has lost "due to the trustee's and board members' breach of trust, replacement trustees and board members be appointed, and trustee and board members are "compelled to redress their breach of trust by paying money, restoring property, or other means to the Trust."
Marshall said in a filing in late February in a civil lawsuit by Leigh Gulley Manning and Megan Carmack, relatives of Amos, that "by way of example, and without limitation, Thomas A. Albritton, as a member of the Board of the Mabel Amos Memorial Fund, allowed or caused his own children to impermissibly receive scholarship awards from the very trust he was charged with administering."
"Specifically, from the years 2012 – 2019, Albritton caused, allowed, or otherwise acquiesced in the award of scholarships to his children from the Trust totaling more than $100,000," Marshall said in the filing. "These scholarship awards to a Board member's son and daughter violated the terms of the Trust, and are prohibited self-dealing and private inurements."
Marshall added in the filing that "without limitation, the Board members John Bell, Rick Clifton and Thomas A. Albritton, jointly, or separately and severally, breached their duties owed to the Trust, including fiduciary, common and or statutory duties, to prevent Board members, including Thomas A. Albritton, from engaging in acts of self-dealing and granting themselves benefits for personal gain as private inurements."
"The Defendants, jointly and severally, are guilty of negligence, wantonness, breach of statutory and common law fiduciary duties, unjust enrichment, breach of contract, and fraud," he stated. "The acts and omissions of the Defendants harmed the Trust."
According to Lindsey's lawsuit, the daughter of Judge Ben Bowden, a former law partner in the Albrittons law firm, was awarded $45,000 to attend Southern Methodist University from 2014 to 2017.
"Like the Albritton children, Bowden's daughter did not need financial assistance to attend a university and these scholarships were awarded based on favoritism, not financial need," Mathews wrote in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also notes a substantial increase in fees to Regions Bank, the fund's trustee, after oil was discovered on farmland owned by Amos's trust, which "suddenly and unexpectedly found itself wealthy."
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email [email protected].
Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.