Former treasurer sues Empire claiming it gave monopoly to marijuana dispensary

The former treasurer of Empire who was fired after she publicly confronted City Council members about a secret agreement with the town’s only marijuana dispensary owner to defer thousands of dollars in fees has filed a lawsuit against the city in federal court.

The whistle-blower lawsuit filed Tuesday by Dawn Ward’s attorney Ahson Wali accuses Mayor Wendy Koch and other Empire City Council members of violating Ward’s First Amendment rights by firing her for making protected comments at a council meeting.

“By voting to terminate Plaintiff, the Mayor and the Board violated plaintiff’s First Amendment rights through an official act or policy of the town,” the lawsuit says.

Koch did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.

Ward, who was Empire’s treasurer from 2013 to 2015, seeks compensatory damages for future lost wages and for emotional pain, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life. She also is seeking compensation for...

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