By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Lipscomb has more to worry about than he thinks.
Dallas County's Allen Clemson--who just made the connection between his jail's floor wax and his missing money over in the county clerk's office--is going to confer with the county auditor about the possibility of recouping some of that stolen money through that floor-wax contract.
And while Lipscomb may feel entirely confident that the public will never connect him with his son-in-law's dubious behavior--after all, The Dallas Morning News buried Dudley's link to Lipscomb in its token August 7 story about the indictments--tracking the money just might.
Last fall, when Lipscomb Industries began to fall apart, Hoffman told Lipscomb that there just wasn't enough money to keep giving Lipscomb his $2,000-a-month salary Lipscomb was accustomed to getting to cover his bills and those of his wife, Lovie. "He didn't give them any money," Dudley told me the evening we met at his home. "I gave them a couple of checks to cover things. In October I gave him money out of my personal account; since then out of RLD's account--whatever we can afford."
And if Dudley is guilty, chances are good that Dallas City Councilman Al Lipscomb has been living, at least in part, for the better part of a year on stolen county money.
Which brings us to the question of how far Dudley seems to be able to stretch his income. It's one of the great mysteries in town--one that a whole bunch of lawyers in two courthouses can't seem to figure out.
It turns out that Dudley's grandiose statements about his success in the physical-therapy business are as ludicrous as his criminal catharsis down in Huntsville. The Dudleys' investors were actually partners--three women who put up $100,000 to start up the business and who then, regrettably, turned it over to Dudley to run. They say they did not get their money back. Dudley fleeced the company, they say, for much more than his $50,000-a-year salary--using the company checkbook as his own to write checks to his family members, including Al and Lovie Lipscomb, Lipscomb Industries, and Lipscomb's 1995 city council campaign.
One allegation they make is that Dudley took an undetermined amount of money out of the physical-therapy clinic and invested it in RLD Chemical Manufacturing.
The partners began to suspect they were being duped when a company trip to Las Vegas--ostensibly to reward the company's hard-working employees--wound up including no employees: just Dudley, his wife, Lovie Lipscomb, a few extended family members, and the family attorney, Dallas City Councilman Don Hicks, and Hicks' wife. The bill came to $7,000.
The partners had had enough, but when they showed up to confront Dudley at the clinic, he cursed at them in front of clients. On another occasion, he locked them out of the building and called the cops, according to court records. In February 1995, the women sued in an attempt to recoup their investment on a business they claim was seeing 63 to 100 patients a day and generating $100,000 a month in income they never saw.
Dudley responded to the suit by immediately filing personal bankruptcy.
Although Dudley's angry partners declined to be quoted for this story, one of their lawyers--bankruptcy attorney Rosemary Zyne, who is trying to recover at least some of her clients' money through the Dudleys' bankruptcy case--says the Dudleys' lifestyle has always been, well, a mystery to her.
"What made my clients suspicious was that he was spending all this money and yet, according to his bankruptcy schedule, only making $50,000 a year, and it didn't fit," says Zyne. "So now the question is, how accurate were these bankruptcy schedules? I mean, that's bankruptcy fraud."
The Dudleys have always amazed people with their grand lifestyle. Shortly after the alleged check scam began, the Dudleys bought a big house and spent a lot of money renovating it. They own three rental houses, drive a 1991 Lexus and a 1994 Suburban and, at the time of their bankruptcy filing last February, had $28,000 in credit card debt, and many outstanding bills, including $3,414 to Circuit City and $2,108 to Linz Jewelers.
But that allegation of bankruptcy fraud could catch up with them. If a criminal charge were pursued for not reporting extraneous income--and it most likely will be--the result could put Dudley in a world of hurt. "We're going to have the creditors' meeting reopened to ask Mr. Dudley about this," says Charles Kennon, staff attorney for the Chapter 13 trustee for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. "And after we have that meeting, we will be referring this to the U.S. Attorney's Office. I'm sure the Internal Revenue Service is on to it, too, but we'll be copying them on it also."
Still, the Lipscomb-Dudley family seems particularly adept at getting away with outrageous behavior. For example, in February 1995, Dudley got upset with an electronics salesman at the Foley's Department Store at Red Bird Mall. The Dudleys wanted to buy a big-screen TV and apparently didn't like how they were being treated. So Dudley hauled off and beat the crap out of the guy. Specifically, after pummeling the salesman, he grabbed the guy's portable radio and beat him over the head with it.