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RALEIGH, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — A former Fort Bragg purchasing agent was sent to federal prison Wednesday for steering government contacts to particular companies in exchange for cash and gifts for him and his wife.

Morris Cooper pleaded guilty Sept. 14 to theft of government property and conspiracy to commit theft.

Cooper was sentenced to 17 months in prison Wednesday when he appeared in federal court in New Bern.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of N.C., Cooper was a purchasing agent with the Directorate of Public Work on Fort Bragg. In his position, he was entrusted to purchase HVAC parts for the public work’s HVAC maintenance section.

An indictment filed August 2019 charged that Cooper used his position to receive cash and gifts from vendors for both him and his wife, Beverley Cooper, in return for steering contracts for supplies to those vendors, the release said.

Additionally, he at times inflated the prices for items under those contracts beyond market price, increasing both the profits to the vendor and the cash payment made to Cooper and/or his wife, the release said.

Beverley Cooper was also charged with conspiring to steal government property and aiding and abetting. She was sentenced to five years probation.

Together they were ordered to pay $6.3 million in restitution and an order of forfeiture was entered in the amount of $1.3 million, the amount they agree they personally profited from the conspiracy, the release said.

The Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division, Major Procurement Fraud Unit, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, investigated the case.

(c)2021 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

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