Blind-sided, again

Page 4 of 5

It's unclear what, if anything, RLD Chemical Manufacturing is still producing on behalf of Lipscomb Industries. (Despite the two highfalutin names, RLD and Lipscomb Industries are virtually interchangeable.) Lipscomb doesn't seem to know the status of his other clients, nor the viability of his son-in-law's company.

"I think he's in the process of changing it [the company] over," Lipscomb said, although Lipscomb never exactly explained what he meant by that. The recent indictment has clearly made it even more difficult to do business than it already was. "When this thing hit the paper the other day, it just doesn't look right--even perception will kill you," Lipscomb says.

Lipscomb knows that a twisted perception of his son-in-law rubs off negatively on him, too. "I want to have a meeting with Rod to get some things straight," Lipscomb told me. "I need to find out some things...to find out what direction we will take."

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.

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Laura Miller