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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Couple Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy and Embezzlement

WILMINGTON, N.C. – A Fayetteville couple pled guilty for their role in a conspiracy which embezzled money belonging to the United States.

According to court documents, Morris Cooper [63] was a purchasing agent assigned to the Operations and Maintenance Division, Directorate of Public Works (DPW), at Fort Bragg, NC and entrusted to purchase HVAC parts for DPW’s HVAC maintenance section.  From 2011 into 2019, Cooper used his position as a purchasing agent at DPW, Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, to conspire with vendors to unlawfully enrich the participants of the conspiracy by steering contracts for supplies to specific vendors in return for cash payments and gifts, and by inflating prices on supplies, increasing both the profits to the vendor and the cash payment made to Cooper and/or his wife, Beverley Cooper [53].

Morris and Beverley Cooper pleaded guilty to conspiracy to embezzle government funds and to receive bribes, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and Morris Cooper additionally pleaded guilty to embezzlement of government funds, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641.  Tentatively set for sentencing in January 2021, Morris Cooper faces a maximum penalty of 180 months in prison; Beverley Cooper faces a maximum penalty of 60 months in prison.  Both agreed to pay $6,300,000 joint and severally in restitution.

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after United States Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones, Jr., accepted the plea. Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating the case.

A copy of this press release is located on our website. Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:19-CR-328-FL.

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The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated September 15, 2020