NORMAN — Charges were filed Friday in Cleveland County against a Norman resident for embezzling $43,220 from The Oklahoma Chapter of The Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ).
Scott Eric Cooper, 45, former acting treasurer for the organization, allegedly embezzled the funds between July 29, 2008, and April 17, 2012, according to an affidavit filed with the charges.
The society’s president, M. Scott Carter, said the alleged embezzlement was discovered when a check was returned after last year’s annual SPJ awards banquet.
According to the affidavit, Cooper admitted to writing checks to himself from the organization’s checking account and depositing them into his personal account. Cooper wrote a letter to the SPJ board of directors, confessing to having a gambling problem that led to stealing the money.
A representative with the Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office said sentencing for an embezzlement charge can receive up to 10 years in jail and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
Carter described Cooper’s alleged embezzlement as frustrating and heart-breaking.
“Our first goal and our first duty to the society and the organization is to obtain our money back,” Carter said. “That’s what we’d like to do first.”