CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A former employee of a non-profit organization was sentenced Thursday to more than four years in federal prison.

Kim Cooper, 55, of St. Albans, was sentenced to 54 months after embezzling more than $1.5 million from Mountain State Justice, which provides legal service to low-income West Virginians. She also failed to pay income taxes to the Internal Revenue Service.

Cooper pleaded guilty on Jan. 23 to wire fraud and tax evasion.

She began working as an officer manager with Mountain State Justice in the late 1990s, a job in which she oversaw daily operations and depositing checks in the organization’s bank accounts.

Cooper secretly opened an account at WesBanco Bank in June 2004 in Mountain State Justice’s name and began stealing checks that were payments for attorneys’ fees, according to U.S. Attorney Carol Casto.

Cooper wrote checks from the account to a family member with notations to make the check appear as if it was from the non-profit. She omitted stolen checks from the cash log and hid WesBanco statements and other similar pieces of mail.

Cooper stopped these actions in late March 2016 when she was interviewed by federal law enforcement agents. Her employment was terminated after the interview.

Cooper was convicted in Wood County in the late 1990s for a financial crime involving embezzlement, according to U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver Jr.

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