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Attorney General Baker Announces Criminal Sentence In State Pension Theft

PRESS ADVISORY

Attorney General Baker Announces Criminal Sentence In State Pension Theft

April 14, 2005

Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced today the successful prosecution of Cynthia Cooper for theft from the state retirement system for Teachers. After Attorney General Baker obtained an indictment against Cooper for felony theft by taking, Cooper elected to avoid a trial by entering a guilty plea in front of Fayette Superior Court Judge Chris Edwards to eight counts of felony theft by taking.

Cooper served as caretaker for an elderly retiree of the Teachers Retirement System. After the retiree’s death, Cooper continued to receive and spend the monthly pension benefit checks in the name of the deceased retiree. She did this for eight months until her actions came to light during an audit by the state retirement system.

Following the guilty plea today, Judge Edwards sentenced Cooper to a 4 year sentence plus restitution in the amount of $11,388.08. The court also ordered Cooper to pay a $3000.00 fine. All monies owed to the state were paid in court today as part of the plea agreement.

In announcing the sentences, Attorney General Baker stated, “Theft from the state pension system is not only a crime that affects the solvency of retirement benefits for dedicated teachers around the state, but it impacts every taxpayer who is forced to make up for any shortfall in the state pension fund through higher taxes. Today’s felony sentence sends a message to those around the state who would rob from dedicated public servants.”

Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Schwartz handled the prosecution for the Attorney General’s office. The case was investigated by Special Agent Terry Hunt of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.