NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A former New York City parks department official is accused of stealing more than $50,000 from the nonprofit group she founded to improve the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.
Estelle Cooper, of Whitestone, Queens was arraigned on charges of grand larceny Tuesday.
Prosecutors said she allegedly stole the funds from the conservancy group Unisphere Inc. over a four-year period. They said the alleged scam was discovered by an internal audit Unisphere conducted in November 2011 and referred to the Queen’s District Attorney’s office.
If convicted, Cooper faces up to 15 years in prison.
Cooper’s lawyer, Vito Palmieri, said the 82-year-old was in poor health and that she might try to avoid going to trial, set for September 12th.
Cooper is a prominent Queens Republican who once ran for state Senate and Queens borough president.
She ran the Queens park that was the site of two Worlds Fairs for 17 years.
She resigned as executive director of Unisphere in December.
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