Former AR Rep. Pleads Guilty to Charity Scheme

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by Shannon Cay

 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A former Arkansas state representative pleads guilty in federal court this week to his role in a conspiracy to embezzle more than 4-million dollars from a Springfield-based healthcare charity.

United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Timothy Garrison says 51-year-old Eddie Wayne Cooper, of Melbourne, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a nonprofit organization.

By pleading guilty, Cooper admits to conspiring with several executives of Preferred Family Healthcare, Inc., a non-profit charity headquartered in Springfield, to use the charity’s funds for unlawful political contributions, for excessive, unreported lobbying and to financially benefit themselves.

Cooper received a total of at least 387-thousand dollars from a lobbying firm and at least 63-thousand dollars in kickbacks as a result of his participation in the conspiracy.

Cooper was an Arkansas state representative from 2006 through January 2011.

He has been connected to another former state rep., 42-year-old Micah Neal from Springdale, who also recently pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit honest services fraud. Neal admitted to using his official position to appropriate money for not-for-profits in exchange for kickbacks.