The Supreme Court of Alabama paused an investigation by a special master and CPA on Monday into alleged self-dealing among trustees overseeing a scholarship fund for needy children created by former Alabama Secretary of State Mabel Amos.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin appointed a special master to the case in November. Griffin appointed retired Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Charles Price as special master. He also appointed James White, Sr., a certified public accountant from Birmingham, to examine the trust fund's accounts and records.

Allen Dodd, an appointed Deputy Alabama Attorney General, said in a hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court in November that the state, the fund's board members and the trust fund's trustee Regions Bank were close to reaching a settlement after a "vigorous adversarial investigation" by the state. The fund's board members are John Bell, Rick Clifton and Alabama Ethics Commission executive director Tom Albritton. Price served on the Alabama Ethics Commission from September 2015 to August 2020. 

On Friday, Dodd requested an order from the Supreme Court of Alabama staying litigation in the case, enjoining and staying special master Charles Price and certified public accountant James White from undertaking any action, proceeding, ruling, accounting, review or other activity pursuant to Griffin's order pending the outcome of the Attorney General's petition to vacate Griffin's order also filed with the Supreme Court.

The Mabel Amos Trust Fund is currently worth about $8.2 million, mostly due to oil and gas wells being on its property in South Alabama. The fund's purpose 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."

Byron Mathews, an attorney representing Tyra Lindsey, a 10th-grade student at Hillcrest High School in Evergreen, and her mother, Denese Rankin, requested Griffin appoint a special master in November. Lindsey hopes to apply for a scholarship from the fund to attend college after high school. Mathews opposed the Supreme Court stopping or delaying the special master's investigation.

Mathews said in a filing last week, "In order to make the Trust whole, a deep dive must be made into the Trust's operations and finances."

But Dodd said in his filing last week the state, Regions and board members have reached a settlement pending dismissal of the Mabel Amos Trust Fund litigation. Dodd said Griffin's order appointing a special master and CPA paid for by the fund was "unnecessary, unjustified, and will lead to enormous waste of the Fund's assets."

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