SPJ regional director in Oklahoma resigns after chapter funds go missing

This Land Press | The Oklahoman
Scott Cooper, the treasurer-secretary for the Society for Professional Journalists’ Oklahoma chapter and director of its Region 8, resigned Wednesday after an inquiry into $40,000 that was missing from the organization’s checking account. Holly Wall says emails obtained by This Land Press “reveal that Cooper admitted to withdrawing $18,650 from the organization’s bank account for personal use”:

In a resignation letter sent to the board of directors, Cooper said he took money by writing checks—about three dozen, he estimated, varying in amounts from $100 to $2,000—from the chapter’s bank account to himself. He used the money to either gamble at the casino or to cover personal expenses incurred because of gambling.

Cooper has won awards for his work with the alt-weekly Oklahoma Gazette; his bio on OKLegalNews, which he publishes, says he’s “an award-winning journalist with two decades of reporting experience of Oklahoma news.” Cooper had been contributing colorful commentary pieces to a satirical site, TheLostOgle.com, but he has resigned from that, too. In an email to the site’s editor, Cooper wrote, “I have some personal issues that need my full attention now.”

In The Oklahoman, Randy Ellis reports the SPJ chapter “first learned of the missing funds May 8 when they were notified checks written on the organization’s account had been returned for insufficient funds.” Chapter vice president/programming Carol Cole-Frowe told Ellis that boardmembers will consider their legal options at a meeting Friday. Cooper’s attorney told Ellis that Cooper plans to repay the missing funds and that “Words cannot express the embarrassment and remorse my client feels as a result of his mistakes.”

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