The 2010 campaign manager and treasurer for Rep. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree larceny for stealing $3,854.07 from the campaign.
Tanzania Cooper, 43, of Bloomfield, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge under the Alford doctrine. Previously, she faced first- and sixth-degree larceny charges.
Judge Jason Lobo sentenced Cooper to two years of probation, two years of suspended jail time and to pay restitution.
Prosecutor Christopher Alexy from the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office said Cooper “appropriated for herself campaign funds provided by the state.”
McCrory’s campaign paid Cooper $6,600 as manager.
An Alford plea means the defendant disputes some of the facts alleged by the prosecution, but admits the state likely has enough evidence to convict.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Cooper said McCrory “had no knowledge” and “was not involved.”
“Cooper never denied using campaign funds for personal and other unauthorized reasons,” the affidavit said. “She disputed the amount.”
According to the affidavit, Cooper said the amount was “closer to $2,000.”
“Cooper also indicated that other campaign members were involved with the illegal use of campaign funds but would not provide any further details saying, ‘Everyone has families,’ ‘It’s already a mess, it’s embarrassing,’ and ‘It’s going to be a circus,’” the affidavit said.
The State Elections Enforcement Commission referred evidence Cooper embezzled about $4,600 to the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney in August, prompting an investigation.
According to the affidavit, about 23 debit card withdrawals appear on the campaign’s bank statements but not on its expense reports.
McCrory participated in the Citizens’ Election Program, which provides state grants to campaigns. On July 26, 2010, his campaign received $25,980 in public funds.
Three of Cooper’s alleged cash withdrawals occurred before that date, leading to the charge of sixth-degree larceny. According to the affidavit, at least 19 unauthorized debits diverted funds from the state grant, leading to the felony first-degree charge.
According to the affidavit, Shawn Council was the first treasurer for the McCrory campaign and Cooper took over that role after she left.
Inspector Matthew Schroeder, who conducted the investigation and wrote the affidavit, also found evidence of expenditures that were never received by the recipient reported by the campaign.
Aziel Brown, the campaign’s deputy treasurer, told Schroeder “he never attended any meetings or performed any tasks for the McCrory campaign in any capacity.”
Cooper admitted to falsely claiming to have paid Brown $450, which he never received, to cover up her withdrawals, according to the affidavit.