Widow backs ouster of trustees

AP / File
Tomi Rae Hynie Brown said she has not spoken with the elder Brown children.

AIKEN - James Brown's widow applauded efforts by the late singer's children to oust the trustees of his estate, saying Thursday that if they hadn't done it, she would have.

"I think it's a wonderful idea," Tomi Rae Hynie Brown said in a phone interview.

Atlanta attorney Louis Levenson on Wednesday filed papers in Aiken County Probate Court demanding that longtime Brown advisers Buddy Dallas, Alford Bradley and David Cannon be removed as the music legend's personal representatives.

Mr. Levenson, who represents the six children named in Mr. Brown's will and multiple grandchildren, said the three men have been mismanaging his estate and his assets are in danger.

The petition was filed one day after Shawn Thomas, one of the singer's sons-in-law, confronted the men and two others at Mr. Brown's Beech Island property, calling authorities on them and accusing them of trespassing.

A court hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 1.

Mrs. Brown, who is embroiled in her own controversy over her husband's will, said she had been "praying" that his children would move to legally force out the three trustees.

She was banned from the Beech Island estate on Christmas Day, the same day her 73-year-old husband died in an Atlanta hospital.

Mr. Dallas has said that her marriage to Mr. Brown is not valid because the couple never remarried after she had a previous marriage annulled.

He also has questioned the paternity of her 5-year-old son, James Brown II.

Neither was mentioned in Mr. Brown's will, which was drafted more than a year before they married and more than 10 months before the boy was born.

Mrs. Brown has vowed to contest the will and indicated that her own petition will be filed soon.

Mrs. Brown said she's had no contact with her late husband's children since his funeral, and "they've refused to return my calls."

"Regardless of the way I was treated at the funeral, I have to forgive my family, because they are my husband's children," Mrs. Brown said.

She said she fully supports their efforts to remove the trustees, because "I know they've been tricked ... because my husband was tricked, and he was a lot smarter than them."

Mrs. Brown played coy when asked about Internet reports that the singer buried money at his 60-acre estate.

"My husband's from the old school," she said, refusing to confirm the rumors.

After more prompting, she would only say, "My husband did a lot of crazy things."

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com.