Brown children's, estate trustees' stories conflict

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January 26, 2007

The war of words between attorneys continues today in the fight over James Brown's estate.

The singer's adult children are trying to get those in charge removed.

First it was Tomi Rae who said she was locked out of Mr. Brown's Beech Island home by the Godfather's legal advisor. Now Mr. Brown's adult children say the same thing's happening to them.

The children accuse the three trustees of not only withholding important financial information about their father, but also mismanaging Mr. Brown's assets.

Long-time legal advisor Buddy Dallas, accountant David Cannon and former judge Alfred Bradley are all named by Mr. Brown himself as his trustees.

But in an emergency petition filed in court on Wednesday, Brown's children claim the personal representatives haven't been qualified since the trust was signed in 2000.

Atlanta attorney Louis Levenson is now representing James Brown's six adult children.

"The court will decide if they are trustees and whether they've been trustees, if there's a trust and if they were appointed properly and qualify as a trustee," Levenson told News 12.

He says the children came to him shortly after their father's death with concerns their father's estate may have been mishandled by the same three men their father the children want removed.

Dallas says Mr. Brown appointed the three people he felt had the capacity and experience to continue his legacy. He says it's a position of trust he's been in for 24 years.

"I don't think it's anyone's prerogative to question Brown's choice in who his personal representatives will be," Dallas told News 12.

The petition also states Brown's children fear their father's liquid assets and his music catalog worth millions may be at stake in the hands of the trustees.

"There are issues involving failing to account for years of financial transactions," Levenson said.

Levenson says he and his clients asked for the documents he says the family is entitled to as heirs, but were rebuffed by the personal representatives.

He says in his experience, people with nothing to hide turn all that over when asked.

Buddy Dallas says the children have been notified since Day 1 , especially about the millions at stake in their father's music.

He says they were among the first to be notified when the Godfather of Soul entered the contract to sell his royalties for millions of dollars last February.

"It is certainly no secret to the children because the first thing we did is disclose it to the kids," he said. "The trustees reached out to the children since the first day and they can't deny that."

News 12 asked Levenson what he thought the trustees might be hiding. He said he had no idea, because he's not suggesting they're hiding anything.