Downtown Jackson Partners filed a motion to compel Linda Brune's deposition yesterday in the County Court of Madison County. DJP sued Ms. Brune for the recovery of $40,439 she allegedly embezzled while working as a secretary. District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith told DJP that Ms. Brune could not testify because she was a "victim" in the criminal case his office is prosecuting against Ben Allen.
Downtown Jackson Partners sued Linda Brune on December 10, 2014 in Madison County Court for allegedly embezzling $40,439. The lawsuit also states she was "terminated on July 25, 2014 for sharing confidential corporate information with a reporter from the Clarion-Ledger." Ms. Brune is a resident of Madison County.
The complaint states that Ms. Brune worked as DJP's administrative assistant for several years prior to her termination. She was allowed to "fill out" checks but did not have signature authority. DJP alleges that she "embezzled 38 check instruments representing a total sum of $40,439" by making checks payable to herself and "forging Mr. Allen's signature on each of the checks." She would then allegedly alter the payee's name on the bank statements by "whiting out" (no racism intended) her name and replacing it with the name of a vendor. She would then allegedly copy the altered statement so evidence of the whiteout would not appear. The complaint charges her with several counts of fraud, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, and unjust enrichment. DJP asked for damages and attorney's fees. Attorney Sam Begley represents DJP.
Ms. Brune filed her answer on January 12, 2015. It contains the standard denials one usually sees in an answer to a complaint. She accused DJP of filing the lawsuit in Madison County due to unfavorable publicity in Hinds County. She argues that any funds withdrawn from DJP accounts were delivered directly to Mr. Allen. She claims she was "loyal to a fault" and doesn't have the money to "reimburse his slush fund." Earlier post.
The District Attorney sent this letter to DJP attorney Sam Begley on May 23, 2016:
The State of Mississippi represents Ms. Linda Brune as a victim In the criminal case of State of Mississippi versus Benjamin Wade Allen. She will not be available for depositions or any other matter related to the civil dispute in the above-referenced until she has retained counsel to respond to numerous requests by DJP. Further, she has advised that she will request the Court to hold any civil matter in abeyance until the disposition of the criminal matter. Further, she has received correspondence requesting that she waive her right to a trial by jury. She vehemently opposes to waiving her rightto a trial by jury, or any other rights.
If you have anything further regarding this matter, please direct your correspondence to our office. Her new counsel with be in touch with you in the very near future. Thank you.
DJP attached that letter as an exhibit to the motion filed yesterday. DJP accuses the District Attorney of acting as Ms. Brune's private attorney in a civil matter in a county outside of his jurisdiction. The motion very succinctly states:
The Plaintiffs are seeking to take the deposition of the Defendant Linda Brune, and to have her produce documents at her deposition. Recently, counsel for the Plaintiffs received a letter, a copy of which is attached as an exhibit, from Robert Shuler Smith, Esq., in which he claims to be acting as Ms. Brune’s attorney. Mr. Smith is the District Attorney for the Seventh Circuit Court District (Hinds County). Mr. Smith’s letter states that Ms. Brune “will not be available for depositions or any other matter related to the civil dispute in the above referenced [ Downtown Jackson Partners v. Linda Brune] until she has retained counsel to respond to numerous requests by DJP.” Mr. Smith further states that Ms.Brune “ will request the Court to hold any civil matter in abeyance until the disposition of the criminal matter.”Notably, the Court Administrator has scheduled a jury trial in this case to begin on December 5, 2016. No attorney has entered an appearance as Ms. Brune’s counsel.
The motion asks the court to order Ms. Brune to submit to a deposition. The case is assigned to Judge Will Longwitz. Ms. Brune is currently not represented by an attorney in this case.
Kingfish note: It should be pointed out that Jerry Mitchell has never reported this lawsuit on the pages of the Clarion-Ledger even though the newspaper published his story about Ms. Brune's charges against Ben Allen on the front page of the Sunday edition in 2014 and several follow-up stories.