July 5, 2013 9:42:25 AM
TUPELO -- An indicted Mississippi lawmaker has been released on $5,000 bond after turning himself in to the Lee County Sheriff's Office on Thursday.
State Rep. Brian Aldridge, a Republican from Tupelo, has been charged with one count of grand larceny.
The attorney general's office said in a news release that Aldridge, 36; his father Louis Aldridge, 64; and his mother Janice Aldridge, age 61; were indicted by a Lee County grand jury on charges brought by its public integrity division.
Louis Aldridge faces three counts of embezzlement and Janice Aldridge faces two counts of embezzlement. The indictment alleges that the defendants took money from the personal banking account of a relative without the victim's consent. They are also free on $5,000 bond each.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to 10 years in prison per each count.
Sheriff Jim Johnson said Brian Aldridge came to the sheriff's department during the early afternoon Thursday and left shortly after bond was set. Aldridge's booking information is posted on the sheriff's department website.
Brian Aldridge's attorney, T.K. Moffett, said Wednesday that his client never had the power to sign checks for the ministry and hasn't improperly taken anything.
"Brian has not committed a crime, and I'm shocked at this indictment," Moffett said.
If convicted, Aldridge would have to resign the House seat he has held since 2004. He represents District 17, which is entirely in northeast Mississippi's Lee County.
During a special legislative session last week, Aldridge told an AP reporter that his younger sister was going on a mission to Tennessee to help repair houses for poor people. Moffett said Wednesday that Aldridge is on the same mission.
In 2012, a chancery court judge ordered Brian Aldridge to pay more than $200,000 to his aunt, whose estate was drained by his father after some of her money was funneled through Touched By An Angel Ministries. Brian Aldridge has appealed that order, asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to overturn it.
That order came in a civil lawsuit that the aunt, Florence Aldridge, filed against the lawmaker and his parents after she lost more than $522,000 from her estate. Louis Aldridge is Florence Aldridge's brother-in-law, and he held power of attorney over the estate. He also was once the chief financial officer of his son's charity.
Moffett said the lawsuit caused Touched By An Angel Ministries to close.