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Former office manager sentenced for embezzling more than $1.5 million, tax evasion

Federal prosecutors say Kim Cooper, 55, of St. Albans, former manager of Mountain State Justice's Charleston Office, was sentenced to four years and six months in prison for an embezzlement scheme and tax evasion. (MGN Online)

The former office manager of a group that provides civil legal services to low-income West Virginians was sentenced to four years and six months in federal prison for embezzling more than $1.5 million from the organization and evading personal income taxes.

Kim Cooper, 55, of St. Albans was sentenced Thursday, according to a news release from of U.S. Attorney Carol Casto’s Southern District of West Virginia Office. Cooper pleaded guilty Jan. 23 to wire fraud and tax evasion.

Federal prosecutors said Cooper began working in the late 1990s in the Charleston office of Mountain State Justice and her duties as office manager included overseeing the daily operations and making deposits of checks. They said she opened a secret account in the name of the organization and began stealing checks made out to Mountain State Justice that were payment for attorneys’ fees and deposited the stolen checks in the secret account.

Cooper also wrote checks from the secret account, with notations that made the checks appear to be payment for legitimate business expenses of Mountain State Justice.

Prosecutors said she endorsed those checks by forging a signature and then deposited the checks in another account at a different bank. Cooper then transferred the stolen funds and used them to pay rent, make car payments, make credit card payments, and pay for other personal expenses.

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