Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has filed a motion to become a plaintiff in a lawsuit accusing a trust fund's board members of scheming to pay for the college tuition of Alabama Ethics Commission members' children.

Leigh Gulley Manning and her daughter Megan Carmack filed the lawsuit in July.

The suit alleges board members for the Mabel Amos Charitable Trust, named after a former Alabama secretary of state, drastically increased administrative fees and directed scholarship money to the children of Ethics Commission members who attended expensive out-of-state schools and were not in need of financial assistance, according to reports.

Amos, who served as Alabama Secretary of State from 1967 to 1975, established a memorial trust in her name with Union Bank, which has since merged with Regions. At the time in question, Alabama Ethics Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton served on the board along with Regions Bank Trust Officer John Bell and attorney Rick Clifton.

According to Lagniappe, Albritton and Clifton's law firm, Albrittons, Givhan, Clifton & Alverson, helped create the will for Amos in 1992 and establish the trust fund, which was intended to award scholarships to students who met specific criteria. 

When oil was discovered on Amos's land, however, the value of all the assets owned by the fund rose to over $4 million, and the number of scholarships awarded increased along with bank fees paid.

The fund distributed $214,000 worth of scholarships to 17 individuals in 2013, including Albritton's daughter, who received a $15,000 scholarship to attend the University of Texas (UT). After Albritton became the ethics commission's executive director in 2015, two more of his children received $15,000 scholarships from the trust to attend UT as well. 

Between 2014 and 2019, $120,000 was issued to Albritton's children, which the plaintiffs believe violated the terms against "self-dealing" by trustees in Amos's will.

Albritton denied all charges of self-dealing and claimed he did not participate in voting on scholarship money for his children. 

The suit also accused the trustees of allowing Regions to take almost $1.2 million between 2002 and 2020 in administrative fees, which, in turn, allowed Regions to dish out scholarship money to connected children.

Marshall's office filed the motion last week. He was originally named as a defendant in the suit but petitioned the Montgomery County Circuit Court earlier this month to rename him as a plaintiff.

In an unrelated action last month, Marshall filed a lawsuit against the Ethics Commission, accusing them of interfering with his duties in an advisory opinion.

1819 News reached out to Marshall's office, but a spokesman declined to comment further.

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