Wednesday, September 2, 2015

SEIU Executive Board Member Is Indicted; Faces up to 15 Years in Prison for Embezzlement

SEIU's Dana Cope: "Let's fly away."
On August 3, Dana Cope -- a member of SEIU’s International Executive Board and the Executive Director of SEIU's 55,000-member State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) -- was indicted on felony charges for embezzling $570,000 from union members, according to news outlets.

A Wake County grand jury charged Cope with obtaining property by false pretenses, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years.

According to the News and Observer:
Among the improper spending with SEANC funds listed in the indictment: landscaping, clothing and jewelry, home renovations and appliances, vacations, hotel rooms, massages and plastic surgery. 
Cope also used $31,345 of union members' money to pay for private flying lessons.

SEIU officials, who resisted workers' early calls for an investigation of Cope, issued a powder-puff comment reminiscent of SEIU’s statements following the criminal indictment of another favorite son, Tyrone Freeman.

Mitch Leonard, SEANC’s new Executive Director, called Cope's indictment "an unfortunate turn of events for Mr. Cope," according to the News and Observer.
Cope (left) and his attorney (right) at bail hearing
On August 4, Cope posted a $200,000 bond and was released from the Wake County Detention Center. The bond appeared to be secured by a condominium owned by his wife.

Below is the indictment issued by the grand jury.

Here's a brief video statement from Betty Jones, a former SEANC treasurer, about how she first came to notice the unusual expenditures by Cope.

When she and a second SEANC board member, Art Anthony, raised questions about the expenditures, they were voted out of office. Jones then brought information and documents to the local newspaper. Jones and Anthony "were later vilified by the SEANC executive board," according to the News and Observer.

Here’s Jones's statement to the News and Observer: