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By JENNIFER RAYMOND
The case of the city of Rockwood against the estate of the late Howard Butler, former city recorder and judge, has finally come to an end.
After a little more than six years of battling, city officials have decided to settle for about $27,000.
“The amount of money left in the estate is very minimal,” Mayor Mike “Brillo” Miller said.
The city sued the estate after half a million dollars worth of city money was allegedly stolen by Butler.
An ongoing investigation of the missing funds began in December 2000 after Butler told then-Mayor Harold Holloway he had taken the money. Butler was found dead a short time later in his home. It was determined an alleged suicide.
The city had also filed a lawsuit against the accounting firm Daniels, Pitzer, Irwin and Aylor in December 2001.
That suit was dismissed last month.
“The city made the determination at this point it was for the best,” City Attorney Elmer Rich said.
The trial against Butler’s estate was set for May, but attorneys representing Rockwood, including Rich, recommended the city settle.
“It would have cost taxpayers a lot more if we fought it till the end,” Miller said.
Councilman James Watts added, “We can’t afford really to take it on.”
The $27,000 the city will receive does not include attorney fees. After those fees are paid, the amount would be even smaller. But officials agreed it would close the book on the lawsuits over the missing funds.
The city council voted unanimously on Monday to approve the final settlement with Butler’s estate.