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Ex-State Fair finance head gets jail, probation for theft

Nebraska AG disappointed with sentence
Posted at 5:23 PM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 18:28:16-04

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP and KMTV) — The former finance director of the Nebraska State Fair has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and 15 years' probation for stealing more than $100,000 from the fair. The Nebraska Attorney's Office said it is disappointed with the sentencing.

On Friday, 30-year-old Patrick Kopke received the sentence and was ordered to pay restitution of more than $158,000 to the State Fair. He was also ordered to undergo counseling for a gambling addiction.

Kopke pleaded no contest in August to three counts of felony theft. He was charged after a state audit showed a company he created had been paid nearly $150,000 from state funds but did not perform any work for the fair. The auditors said Kopke used bank accounts from the company to pay more than $100,000 in personal expenses.

The Nebraska Attorney General's office issued this statement regarding the sentencing:

The Attorney General‘s Office is disappointed with the sentence issued today in the case of Patrick Kopke. We intend to appeal the matter. Mr. Kopke was put in a position of public trust. He violated that trust and pled to a felony. The State asked the court for a five to ten-year prison sentence. We believe the sentence issued of 30 days in jail, 15 years of probation, and restitution is inadequate. His felony act involved embezzling over $150,000 from the State Fair Board.

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