The former treasurer of the Oklahoma chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists has been charged with felony embezzlement, accused of taking more than $43,000 from the organization while acting as treasurer. Scott Eric Cooper, 45, Norman, was charged last week in Cleveland County District Court.
Cooper is accused of writing checks from the SPJ account to his personal account. He is said to have taken $43,220 from the organization's account between July 2008 and April 2012. Cooper resigned in May 2012 after the organizations checks were returned for insufficient funds following an awards banquet. In a resignation letter to the Oklahoma SPJ board members, he allegedly admitted to writing checks to his personal account and told the organization's leaders that he had a gambling problem that led him to take the money. His white collar defense lawyer said last week that he had not yet seen the charges and could not comment on his client's case. However, he earlier stated that his Cooper regretted his actions and was attempting to repay the organization.
If convicted of embezzling more than $25,000, Cooper faces a potential sentence of up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Embezzlement is the misappropriation of funds with which one is entrusted for his or her personal use. Frequently, as is allegedly the case in Cooper's circumstances, embezzlement is not fueled by pure and simple greed, but rather as a desperate attempt to handle an addiction or to gain control over a difficult financial situation. Drug addiction, gambling addiction, and shopping addiction are common motivating factors behind embezzlement schemes, as are financial difficulties such as facing bankruptcy or foreclosure. People who embezzle from their employers are often good people who find themselves in a bad situation. They are seldom hardened criminals looking to victimize others. Instead, they are people who result to reckless and rash behaviors in an attempt to resolve a seemingly hopeless circumstance. Often, those accused and convicted of embezzlement have every intention of repaying the money they "borrowed" before anyone ever finds out it is missing, but this seldom happens,
as the behavior tends to spiral out of control.
If you or a loved one has been accused of embezzling funds from an employer or organization, you need swift and experienced white collar defense representation. To schedule a free evaluation of your case and to obtain quality legal counsel as quickly as possible, please fill out the confidential case review form found here. Our Oklahoma embezzlement lawyers are ready to fight for you.