McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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November 29, 2013

DOC employee gets 59 counts in prison drug smuggling case

McALESTER — An Oklahoma Department of Corrections employee was charged with 59 felony counts in a prison drug smuggling case.

Karen Cooper, 35, of Hartshorne, was charged in Pittsburg County District Court on Nov. 18 with 59 counts of accepting a bribe “by corruptly receiving monies for the introduction of contraband in to a penal facility,” court records state.

An affidavit filed in the case alleges that while Cooper worked at Carl Albert Mental Health Center, she supplied contraband to Jackie Brown Correctional Center inmates.

The inmates worked in the kitchen and conducted orderly duties at the mental health center, the affidavit states.

Cooper also allegedly confessed to accepting payments for the contraband from the inmates with a prepaid debit card called a Green Dot card, the affidavit alleges.

The investigation into the case originated at Howard McLeod Correctional Center in Atoka, the affidavit states.

Investigators said they talked a girlfriend of an inmate at HMCC who purchased a “reload pack” for a Green Dot card and gave the numbers to her inmate boyfriend, the affidavit alleges. While questioning the inmate about the card, the inmate allegedly told investigators that another individual was smuggling contraband to inmates and was being paid through a Green Dot card.

The investigators obtained Multi-County Grand Jury subpoenas for records of Green Dot cards in the name of Cooper and another individual, according to the affidavit.

The records indicate Cooper was receiving payments from multiple locations while she worked at the Carl Albert Mental Health Center, the affidavit alleges.

A working telephone number could not be found to contact Cooper for comment. It is unknown if she has obtained an attorney.

Calls Friday to the Department of Corrections were not immediately returned.

If convicted, Cooper faces up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,00 for each count.

She has been released from custody on a $5,000 bond and is set to appear in court for a preliminary hearing conference on Thursday.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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