George Burroughs Jr.’s wife forced him to make changes to his finances and estate documents, allowing her to steal more than $1.7 million from various trusts, according to a response in an ongoing lawsuit involving Burroughs’ stepchildren and wife.
The response comes after the suit, filed Nov. 16, 2017, claims Burroughs’ stepchildren George McEwen and Laura Fogarty stole 24,370 shares of Burroughs & Chapin stock from the Burroughs Trust, which was formed in May 2005. The shares amounted to almost $10 million.
The suit alleges the stolen money forced Burroughs to sell his Murrells Inlet home and move to Winnabow, North Carolina.
But, the response contends, Burroughs was forced to sell his Murrells Inlet home after he started seeing Kee Dean Sullivan, who “exercised mental coercion over” him while he was suffering from health issues. Burroughs took medication that sometimes impaired his cognitive functioning, the response says.
“The mental coercion exercised by Kee Dean Sullivan destroyed the free agency of [George Burroughs] and constrained him to do things which were against his free will and that he would not have done if he had been left to his own judgment and volition,” the response reads.
The response, filed by Fogarty’s attorney David Miller, contends Sullivan was still married to Thomas Sullivan while she was seeing Burroughs. Kee Sullivan’s attorney, Taylor Powell of Charleston, told The Sun News he’s in possession of Kee Sullivan’s and George Burroughs’ marriage certificate, which states they were married June 19, 2017.
A copy of the marriage license was not provided to The Sun News, as Powell said it contained sensitive information; however, Miller has a copy, Powell said.
George Burroughs and Kee Sullivan
Burroughs was married to his first wife, Lanita Burroughs — mother of McEwen and Fogarty — for over 25 years. During their marriage, they created trusts with McEwen and Fogarty as ultimate beneficiaries, the response says.
When she died in July 2008, her trust, consisting of the Murrells Inlet home, became irrevocable.
In September 2015, Kee Sullivan separated from her husband, met George Burroughs and took control of George Burroughs’ finances, the response says, taking power of attorney and putting the Murrells Inlet home up for sale.
Shortly after, George Burroughs allegedly “vanished without any notice or knowledge of his family or friends,” the suit says. According to Fogarty’s response, Kee Sullivan moved the two of them to North Carolina or Maryland.
“In his state of diminished capacity, [George Burroughs] was isolated from his family,” the suit reads. “He was isolated from his friends. Attempts to communicate were intercepted by Kee Dean Sullivan and terminated.”
In 2017, George Burrough’s family heard rumors he was hospitalized. They could not obtain any update on his condition, according to the response. In January, his family again heard rumors he had passed.
George Burroughs died Jan. 19 at the age of 74.
At the time of George Burroughs’ death, all of his assets, the Lanita Trust assets and the Burroughs Trust assets were misappropriated by Kee Sullivan and her family, according to the response.
The Burroughs Trust and Murrells Inlet home
Shortly after Kee Sullivan started seeing George Burroughs, she “commenced a campaign designed to create distrust and ill will toward [Fogarty] and [McEwen],” the response reads.
According to Fogarty, Kee Sullivan excluded Fogarty and McEwen from the Lanita Trust — which contained the deed to the Murrells Inlet home. Fogarty was to receive the house or its proceeds at the time of Lanita Burroughs death, the suit contends.
When Lanita Burroughs died, George Burroughs allegedly transferred the home to himself as trustee of the Lanita Trust.
Kee Sullivan, acting as George Burroughs’ power of attorney, signed an agreement May 23, 2016, listing the Murrells Inlet home for sale, the response says.
Kee Sullivan informed bankers April 22, 2016, that George Burroughs was buying a house in Winnabow, North Carolina, and selling the Murrells Inlet home. She planned to buy the North Carolina home from a home equity line of credit, and pay that off after the Inlet home was sold.
On May 12, 2016, $150,000 was drawn out of the line of credit. Four days later, George Burroughs bought the North Carolina home for $154,000, the suit states.
The Murrells Inlet home was sold Dec. 12, 2016, for more than $623,000, which is under market value, the response states.
Almost $398,000 was wired to pay off the line of credit and over $181,740 was allegedly wired to George Burroughs’ personal checking account, rather than the Lanita Trust — where it was supposed to go, according to the response.
Once the money was in his checking account, it was transferred to Kee Sullivan, the suit says, and distributed to her family.
On the same day Kee Sullivan allegedly excluded McEwen and Fogarty from the trust, George Burroughs created a new will, granting all personal property to Kee Sullivan.
George Burroughs amended his trust Jan. 7, 2017, to exclude Fogarty and McEwen as beneficiaries, giving Kee Sullivan 90 percent of the trust’s principal, according to documents. Two days later, he allegedly amended his will in Maryland, appointing Kee Sullivan as personal representative of the Burroughs Trust.
“Having obtained control of all accounts, having removed [George Burroughs] from his home, and having isolated [George Burroughs] from his friends and family, Kee Dean Sullivan began the rapid misappropriation of [George Burroughs’] accounts to herself and her family,” Fogarty alleges.
According to the response, the money was split between Kee Sullivan, her children, grandchildren and husband:
- Kee Sullivan allegedly received over $1.2 million.
- Thomas Sullivan allegedly received over $16,000.
- Tanner Clark Custer allegedly received almost $194,000.
- Tyler Lee Custer allegedly received over $278,000.
- Terri Lee Hardesty allegedly received $23,790.
- Robert Turner Dean III allegedly received $5,600.
Of that money, over $386,000 was misappropriated from the Lanita Trust, the response says.
The document, which denies the claims made in the lawsuit filed Oct. 10 by Kee Sullivan, is asking the court to dismiss the suit, fully replenish funds to the Lanita Trust and award actual and punitive damages in an amount determined by the court.
Powell, who represents Kee Sullivan, said in an email to The Sun News his client is confident in their case.
“We feel that the evidence will show that Mr. Burroughs had the legal right to sell the Murrells Inlet home and that his actions were allowed by the trust that the home was owned by,” Powell said.
“[Kee Sullivan] has known Mr. Burroughs since they were teenagers and they have loved each other for many years, and we look forward to presenting our case to a jury so that truth and justice can prevail.”