“A Forsyth County judge completely dismissed a lawsuit that claims a Winston-Salem lawyer, Forsyth County clerks and others conspired to steal $1.4M in assets from a Winston-Salem woman who had been declared mentally incompetent.”
Judge John O. Craig of Forsyth Superior Court in North Carolina granted a motion to dismiss the County Clerk of Court from the lawsuit filed by an attorney representing the estate of a former nurse and businesswoman, Mary Thompson, who died in 2014.
According to the Wealth Advisor’s article, “Judge Denies $1.4M County Clerk Estate "Conspiracy",” the lawsuit alleged that Bryan Thompson, a public administrator in Forsyth County, was illegally appointed guardian of Mary’s estate. The suit claimed Thompson, along with County clerks and others, formed a criminal conspiracy designed to gain control of Mary’s estate and steal $1.4 million in assets from her.
The lawsuit also named as defendants William Speaks, an attorney who represented Thompson’s niece, and Fred Flynt, an attorney appointed as Thompson’s guardian ad litem.
Everyone except the Clerk of Court had been previously dismissed as defendants in the lawsuit.
Attorneys for Bryan Thompson sought sanctions against Alston and Doris Tucker, the current administrator for Mary Thompson’s estate. The judge didn’t decide on that request and took it under advisement, until either one of two things happened—Alston declined to appeal Craig’s decision after a period of 30 days or Alston files an appeal and the N.C. Court of Appeals issues a decision, which could take a year.
This long battle started in 2007, when Mary’s family first challenged Bryan Thompson’s appointment as guardian of the estate. The family didn’t like how Bryan was appointed. Leslie Pope, Mary Thompson’s niece, filed a petition to have her aunt declared mentally incompetent and to have a guardian appointed to oversee the estate. At a hearing, Mary was found to be mentally incompetent and another order appointed Bryan Thompson as guardian of the estate.
Alston argued that those orders were invalid because they weren’t time stamped with the clerk’s office. If the orders are invalid, then Bryan was never officially the guardian of Mary’s estate, Alston argued. If he wasn’t the guardian of the estate, then anything he did on behalf of the estate was illegal, the lawsuit says. In fact, in 2014, the state Court of Appeals ruled that the appointment of Bryan was “without legal authority”, precisely because Hinshaw’s order on mental incompetency was never entered into the clerk’s office.
The Clerk of Court has said this was a mistake and it had been standard practice for years for clerks not to stamp orders that had been prepared and executed by representatives in the clerk’s office. The issue, she said, has since been fixed. However, Alston contends this wasn’t a mere error. He claims that Bryan Thompson, several Forsyth County clerks, Speaks and Flynt conspired together in a criminal enterprise to illegally take over the estates of Mary Thompson and other people and steal their assets.
Alston said that Bryan stole monthly retirement checks, social-security checks, commissions, and all her real and personal property. He estimated the value of her estate at $1.4 to $1.6 million. However, according to a motion that Thompson’s attorneys filed, Mary had 48 properties. At one point, they were valued at about $1 million, but a 2012 bankruptcy report indicated a net value of $66,120, the motion said.
Bryan sold seven of them, and then, after he filed for bankruptcy on behalf of the estate in 2011, the bankruptcy trustee sold 12 other properties. Another 29 properties were legally abandoned, Thompson’s attorneys said in court documents.
The parties are in a holding pattern, until the courts make their determination.
Reference: The Wealth Advisor (March 19, 2018) “Judge Denies $1.4M County Clerk Estate "Conspiracy"”