Enzor: Repay $900K by Sept. 26

Published 11:51 pm Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Special Probate Judge Lee Enzor set a Sept. 26, 2008, deadline for the repayment of $900,000 plus interest to the estate of Cary Douglas Piper in an order entered yesterday.

Enzor’s order was in response to letters from an attorney and estate administrator he recently ordered to repay $450,000 each.

In August, Enzor ordered the Piper estate reopened and ordered the administrator and attorney to repay “egregious and impermissible fees” received from the estate. The Piper estate is at the center of the state’s case against former Probate Judge Sherrie Phillips, who was indicted by a Covington County grand jury in June on six felony ethics and theft charges totalling $1.8 million.

The case came back to Enzor after Birmingham attorney Gilbert M. Sullivan Jr. filed the petition to reopen Piper’s estate on behalf of five first cousins. In a hearing held in July, Sullivan argued that the $450,000 fees paid to Mary Drew Sullivan of Castleberry, named administrator of the estate by Judge Phillips, and the $450,000 in fees paid to Mary Drew Sullivan’s attorney, John Brock of Evergreen, were too high. Gilbert Sullivan is not related to Mary Drew Sullivan.

Last week, Enzor received letters from both Brock and Mary Drew Sullivan about the amounts they were ordered to repay.

Brock wrote that he had purchased two $125,000 12-month CDs from the Bank of Evergreen, invested $125,000 with Smith-Barney and purchased three Pre-Paid Affordable College Tuition (PACTs) from the State of Alabama for $68,000.

“Now, I am ordered to repay the $450,000,” Brock wrote. “Do you want met to redeem the CDs and lose interest? Do you want me to send you the CDs? Do you want me to cash the Smith-Barney account when the market is poised to upturn?

“If I do all this, I am still approximately $80,000 short. Will you give me some time to try to liquidate some assets, and if so, how much,” Brock inquired.

In her letter, Ms. Sullivan stated that she had the majority of the money invested in regular savings and “will submit this without hesitation.”

“Having no idea of this money being wrongly awarded, I paid off my home, car, made home improvements, put in central air and heat, etc., and this money is not in the account,” she wrote. “The situation of being ill advised by the former judge has put me in a personal bind, however I plan this week to go to see how much I can borrow against my home and land to get the monies back to the proper account. I cannot get all of it immediately. Please allow me some time to figure out how to do this.”

Enzor ‘s Sept. 17 order “further explains the term ‘immediately.’ ”

Quoting Black’s Law Dictionary, the order states “immediately” is defined as “without interval of time, without delay, straightway, or without any delay or lapse of time …”

“Therefore, it is ordered, adjudged and decreed that all fees plus 6 percent interest are due immediately,” the order stated. “Any party who has failed to make payment as ordered by no later than Sept. 26, 2008, shall appear before this court at 3 p.m., Oct 6, 2008, to show cause why they should not be held in contempt.”