2 Brown trustees testify about wills

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AIKEN --- Two of James Brown's longtime advisers took the stand Thursday to explain why they never handed over a will that's different from the one they executed last year.

Buddy Dallas and Alford Bradley, who have both been accused of mishandling the music legend's estate and of conspiring to "siphon off" millions of his money, testified that they never mentioned a 1999 will because they were never asked about it.

Mr. Brown's 2000 will, which was filed in Aiken County Probate Court after his death on Christmas Day 2006, left the bulk of his estate to two irrevocable charitable trusts and left six of his children household and personal items.

The only major differences between the wills are that the 1999 one names four more people as trustees, including daughter Deanna Brown Thomas, and that the two trusts are revocable, which means Mr. Brown could have disbanded them at any time. Mr. Bradley testified that the 1999 will was never in his possession and that Mr. Brown changed it because he "wanted to."

He had others before that, too, Mr. Bradley said.

"When Mr. Brown would fall out with somebody, he would change his will," the former trustee said. "If they looked up there, they might find two or three more."

Mr. Dallas, who at times spoke nostalgically about the man he called a "great friend" and expressed anger at how he and Mr. Bradley were ousted and then replaced as trustees last year, said he never told two court-appointed special administrators about the 1999 will because "I was dealing with a thousand other issues and this was not one of them."

The 1999 will could be key to some of the legal challenges facing Mr. Brown's estate. Five of the six children named as heirs want the 2000 will and trusts thrown out. Because that petition has not yet been heard, Judge Jack Early kept a leash on questions about the singer's estate planning.

Although Thursday's hearing was a clearinghouse for some outstanding issues in the case, it hinted at the larger debate over where the bulk of Mr. Brown's wealth is to go: the trusts or his estate. The trusts were set up to provide scholarships for Mr. Brown's grandchildren and needy youngsters.

Mr. Dallas was unable to keep his irritation in check, and during his lengthy testimony commented on the difficulties in settling the estate amid complex legal challenges; the special administrators, who he says essentially took over and put the trustees under overwhelming pressure; and Mr. Brown's children.

Among his comments:

- "Mr. Brown didn't have any life insurance because he was afraid his kids would kill him."

- "Mr. Brown's estate is a lot more than a double-wide and a pickup. It's very extensive."

Mr. Dallas said questions about Mr. Brown's will are useless, because "James Brown did what James Brown wanted to do."

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

HIGHLIGHTS

- Two of James Brown's longtime advisers said Thursday they did not notify the court or attorneys involved in the estate about a 1999 will because they were never asked about it.

- It was the first time Buddy Dallas and Alford Bradley, who are both facing allegations of misconduct in their handling of Mr. Brown's estate, have testified in the 13 months since legal challenges were first filed over the singer's last wishes.

- David Cannon, who testified twice last year, did not take the stand Thursday. His attorney told Judge Jack Early that the former trustee would invoke the Fifth Amendment on every question.

- Judge Early refused to disqualify Atlanta attorney Louis Levenson, who is representing five of the singer's children and their children. Three of Mr. Levenson's former clients -- Mr. Brown's son Terry and grandsons Forlando and Romunzo -- tried to oust him because they do not want the will or trusts overturned, something Mr. Levenson is petitioning.

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kiddspur
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kiddspur 02/08/08 - 08:06 am
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Yawn -- bet old James is

Yawn -- bet old James is having a good laugh!!!!

426Hemi
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426Hemi 02/08/08 - 08:49 am
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Are the children that

Are the children that destitute and hard-up they must resort to murder? Then why is it he had umpteen million children? You'd think one might commit murder out of spite, or jealousy.

I believe Mr. Dallas' comment concerning this was out of line; unless he can prove it. All the more reason to live the low life; in a mobile home, and drive a pick-up (Sam Walton did.)

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 02/08/08 - 09:26 am
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What in the world are you

What in the world are you talking about?

InChristLove
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InChristLove 02/08/08 - 09:43 am
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"the larger debate over where

"the larger debate over where the bulk of Mr. Brown's wealth is to go: the trusts or his estate." Why don't they just divide it evenly and put a percentage in the trusts, a percentage in the estate, a percentage to Tomi to raise his minor son and use the rest to pay any outstanding debt? I wasn't a fan of James Brown or his music but this is so stupid. I guess this is the price you pay for fame.

neversurprised
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neversurprised 02/08/08 - 10:33 am
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Where have you been HEMI

Where have you been HEMI children kill parents for nothing, will they do for money?

Chuchi
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Chuchi 02/08/08 - 10:46 am
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There should be no debate.

There should be no debate. James Brown wrote a will, his people (he chose them and they worked for him) filed it and it is legal. This was what he wanted to do with his estate. If it is your money then you can do whatever you want to with it. This is all so ridiculous.

426Hemi
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426Hemi 02/08/08 - 10:58 am
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My comment was a jab at

My comment was a jab at Dallas' fervid comments during this hearing. His comment about James Brown being afraid his children would kill him. From above: (- "Mr. Brown didn't have any life insurance because he was afraid his kids would kill him.")
Where the hell did that come from? Groping at straws to throw suspicion from himself? Every day something "new" appears like this 1999 will. These trustees are hiding things apparently, and the more rooting around, the more Truffles found! Sounds like a buncha pigs in a "pigpen." I'd bet there is a treasure trove of missing and misleading information the trustees have dreamed up. What a mess for all involved. And, Mr. Brown hasn't been laid to rest, so he can't be rolling over in his grave!

TrulyBlessed
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TrulyBlessed 02/08/08 - 11:33 am
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The trustees didn't hide the

The trustees didn't hide the 1999 will. They didn't have a copy - it was in the possession of the attorney in Columbia, SC who drafted it. For all the trustees knew, the 1999 will had been destroyed because it was made invalid by the 2000 will - the last will & testament. The 1999 will was revoked by the 2000 will, and the '99 will is totally irrrelevant. Having a hearing about a will that has been superceded is a total waste of time - par for the course.

TrulyBlessed
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TrulyBlessed 02/08/08 - 11:45 am
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The coverage of this story

The coverage of this story here is not complete - WISTV in Columbia does a much better job. Their coverage is available at WISTV.COM.

Evans Ga.
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Evans Ga. 02/08/08 - 01:32 pm
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Let the man rest already-do

Let the man rest already-do what the will say's do (the last will drawn up). It's amazing how simply that was to fix, and the courts can't seem to do so.

CSRAresident
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CSRAresident 02/08/08 - 03:31 pm
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My how the tide is changing

My how the tide is changing for ole Albert Dallas and and his buddies Alfred and David. It shouldn't be long now before a civil trial (lawsuit) begins. He better hope Tomi Rae, and the kids, have a change of heart and has mercy on him when time comes. Hopefully the three stooges will be put out on the street with nothing but a bag lunch when the Brown's are done with them. OH, and that lastest will that all of a sudden appeared the day he died...was written by a lawyer from Columbia who is now serving lfe in prison for MURDER. Go figure, these lawyers I tell ya... LOL...this is funny stuff. What the heck are they teaching them in law school these days? Coruption 101 ?

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