Pointe Coupee Parish leaders named in lawsuit

John Gosserand (left) and Jim Bello (right)
John Gosserand (left) and Jim Bello (right)
Donald Hodge
Donald Hodge

POINTE COUPEE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A police juror's fight to get public records in Pointe Coupee has landed in court.

Justin Cox believes the parish is out nearly one million dollars in unpaid utility bills. He said the documents he has requested will prove it.

Attorney Donald Hodge walked into the Pointe Coupee Parish Court House on Tuesday to file a lawsuit aimed at some top parish administrators. His client, police juror Justin Cox claims Parish Administrator Jim Bello, Public Utilities Director John Gosserand and Police Jury President Mel Bueche, all listed in the lawsuit, have failed to comply with his request for public documents.

"He has been very specific about what he wants as to amounts of the accounts. The finances of the parish are affected by this," Hodge said.

Cox said he wants to look at accounts receivables that are 90 days or more past due, a list of the people addressed and the amount owed. He also wants to know whether services have been cut for nonpayment among other things. Cox said he has requested the information for solid waste, mosquito abatement, water, and gas services. He said he is still waiting on records for the water and gas accounts he requested in January.

"You have utilities that are not being collected that are past due, maybe upwards of a million dollars so that is what the concern was and that people were not paying what they needed to for the utilities."

Parish administrators listed in the lawsuit referred 9News to Parish Attorney John Wayne Jewell. Jewell said he has a 440 page document that Cox requested waiting on his desk. He said it's been available since last week but Cox has not come to pick it up.

Cox insisted he is getting the runaround. He believes the records he requested were only produced after he sent an email to parish leaders on Wednesday warning them he would be suing them for the information.

"The law says 72 hours and if you have an objection with that then you need to say what the objection is. It's certainly not more than two months which is why we are where we are today,"said Hodge

A formal hearing date has not yet been set.

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