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Press Release

Employee of Cottonport Housing Authority Pleads Guilty to Theft of Federal Program Funds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Louisiana

ALEXANDRIA, La. - United States Attorney Brandon B. Brown announced that Lisa G. Cooper, 55, of Cottonport, Louisiana, has pleaded guilty to federal program theft. The hearing was held today before United States District Judge Dee D. Drell.

According to evidence presented to the court, Cooper was employed by, and an agent of, the Cottonport Housing Authority (“CHA”), which is a local government agency that provides subsidized housing to low income individuals. The CHA received more than $10,000 per year in 2017, 2018 and 2019 from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) in the form of capital funds and operating subsidies.

In 2019, a routine financial audit was conducted, and it revealed some accounting discrepancies at the CHA, specifically, that from 2017 through 2019, tenant payments were being diverted from the CHA. Further investigation revealed that Cooper had been embezzling funds from the CHA.  While acting as an agent of the CHA, Cooper had been collecting rental payments on behalf of the agency from the CHA’s tenants in the form of money orders, with the payee and payor sections of the money orders left blank. Cooper would then enter her name as the payee and deposit the money orders into her personal bank accounts. The investigation revealed that approximately $30,079.05 in money orders was deposited into her personal bank accounts from 2017 through 2019.

Cooper admitted at today’s hearing that she acted as an agent of the CHA and embezzled and stole property from the CHA which she was not entitled to receive. She faces a sentence of not more than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. 

“This local government agency was there to assist low income individuals and this defendant’s choice to steal these funds for her own personal benefit is appalling,” stated U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown. “These types of crimes are ones that we will continue to pursue and prosecute.”

“This investigation represents our continuing resolve to address instances of fraud involving HUD programs,” said Bertrand Nelson, Special Agent in Charge, HUD, Office of Inspector General.  “We will continue to work diligently with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to protect the integrity of our programs and take swift action against those who embezzle funds intended for those most vulnerable in our communities.”

The case was investigated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Daniel Siefker.

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Updated August 4, 2022