- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

LEESVILLE, La. (AP) - A state district judge has dismissed a claim for two Leesville city councilmen to repay more than $120,000 in health benefits.

The city filed suit against council members Milton Dowd and William Elliott, alleging they illegally enrolled in the city’s health plan and should repay the insurance premiums and medical payments the city made on their behalf.

The Town Talk reports (https://townta.lk/P8J2ht ) Judge H. Ward Fontenot found the city did not prove its case and dismissed the claim in a ruling filed March 21.

“I am relieved that this decision has been handed down,” Dowd said in a statement. “I have always maintained that I did nothing illegal or improper in obtaining health insurance through the city. … Whenever there was any question as to whether or not I should be on the plan, I got off.”

“I am pleased with the ruling of the judge that me and Mr. Dowd’s actions were lawful,” Elliott said. “It’s time to move forward for the betterment of the city of Leesville.”

Dowd and Elliott countered that they enrolled in the plan through the city administrator, who administered the health plan, and the city’s contribution was appropriated and approved in the budget process. The opinion of the city’s former auditor that the council members’ participation in the health plan was proper was also cited in the judge’s ruling.

Dowd said the lawsuit was politically motivated. Both Dowd and Elliott are running for re-election April 5.

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Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, https://www.thetowntalk.com

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