Dana Cope briefly appeared in Wake County Superior Court Monday on charges that he misappropriated $570,000 from the State Employees Association of North Carolina.
While there was no movement in court Monday, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said the case is at a typical juncture in the court process: Cope must decide whether to take a plea deal offered by prosecutors or proceed to trial.
Freeman said she views Cope as a public figure whose victims include the 55,000 retired and active employees who are SEANC members.
“I’ve been pretty consistent all along as to what I think is a fair disposition in this case,” said Freeman, who declined to discuss any details. “There’s a strong argument that the damage done to the organization surpasses the monetary losses.”
Cope, wearing a dark charcoal suit, was accompanied to court by his wife, Melinda Cope. The couple left without speaking.
Cope has not yet entered a plea.
Cope’s troubles began after The News & Observer reported that he used SEANC checks to pay for landscaping at his home and flight lessons, and used SEANC credit cards to pay for electronics, expensive clothes and eyebrow waxing.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman started an investigation the following day. In August, a Wake County grand jury indicted Cope, 46, of Raleigh on two felony charges of obtaining property by false pretenses. The charges could carry as much as 15 years in state prison.