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.