JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. — One candidate who will appear on Jefferson County ballots in November now owes more than $200,000 in damages to a church.
This, after a jury found Phillip Brown liable of two counts of conspiracy and one count of defamation in a civil case.
Brown is the Republican Party candidate for Jefferson County Clerk of Court.
The attorney for the church in this case sums up the jury's verdict like this: Brown was part of a conspiracy to defame the minister, to take over the church and its finances.
The legal fight lasted for years, centering around control of Sandusky Church of Christ, which houses a small congregation off Pratt Highway.
“It started back in 2012, when first the actually church takeover took place,” said Brian Richey, who represented the church and its minister in this lawsuit against Brown and others.
Earlier this month, a jury found Brown liable of three counts: conspiracy to remove church money from bank accounts, conspiracy to wrongly act as trustee of Sandusky Church of Christ, and libel against the minister.
“Mr. Brown and a group of other people had conspired and pretty much affected a takeover of the church,” said Richey.
That’s a take-over that Richey says included the church's assets.
“What it is, when they take over the legal aspects of the church community, they have control of the actual assets of the church. You then have control of the church.”
The jury found Brown must pay damages to the church in the total of $230,000.
Brown is now pursuing a new career in his quest to be Jefferson County Clerk of Court. He'll be on the ballot November 6.
We called Brown and went by his house to try to seek comment. To this point, he has not responded.
Brown will remain on the ballot because the case was civil and no criminal charges were involved.