Former Eastern Kentucky sheriff indicted, accused of taking law enforcement money

Greenup County sheriff's office (Facebook)
·3 min read

A former Greenup County sheriff faces two federal charges after he was indicted on accusations that he took more than $50,000 worth of cash seized by law enforcement for his own uses, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Keith Cooper, 68, was indicted last week by a federal grand jury, according to court records. The indictment alleged that Cooper obtained more than $50,000 by withdrawing money from a bank account used for law enforcement.

The account which Cooper took the money from “was used to maintain funds that had been seized and forfeited as a result of GCSO investigations and prosecutions of violations of Kentucky’s state criminal laws,” the indictment stated. It was referred to as a “special enforcement account.”

“As the Greenup County Sheriff, Cooper had substantial authority over the deposit of funds into and expenditure of funds from the Special Enforcement Account, the use of his official vehicle and credit card, and purchases of firearms and ammunition with public funds,” the indictment stated.

“Cooper repeatedly abused this authority by wrongfully using these public resources for his own benefit.”

The indictment also alleged that Cooper withheld money from the account which had been seized during drug investigations conducted by his office. He used the money for personal uses and “otherwise unauthorized uses as he deemed fit,” according to the indictment.

Cooper insisted that seized money and other items obtained in investigations should be kept in a drawer in his office instead of in an evidence locker, according to the indictment. He allegedly fabricated details about drug investigations in an attempt to conceal the fraud.

The indictment also alleged that Cooper told his Greenup County deputies to buy ammunition which wasn’t used for the office’s service weapons. He then told the deputies to take “multiple boxes of the ammunition to his private residence,” prosecutors said in a news release. Cooper illegally kept about 35,000 rounds of ammunition, according to the indictment.

That ammunition cost about $35,000 and public money was used to purchase it, according to the indictment. After he sold his home, he directed deputies to move the ammunition to his storage locker, according to the indictment.

Cooper also allegedly used a vehicle and gas purchased with Greenup County money to take personal out-of-state trips, according to the indictment.

Cooper was the Greenup County sheriff from 1996 until the end of 2018, according to court records. He committed the alleged crimes between 2013 and 2017, according to prosecutors.

The charges against Cooper include one count of mail fraud and one count of theft of property from a federally funded agency, according to prosecutors.

Authorities haven’t yet set a date for Cooper to appear in court in Kentucky. He’s now a Murfreesboro, Tenn., resident, according to prosecutors.

Cooper could face up to 20 years of imprisonment for mail fraud and 10 years of imprisonment for theft of public funds if he’s convicted. He could also face a maximum fine of $250,000 for each count. Any sentence imposed would be determined by a federal judge.

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