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Former State Fair finance director sentenced to jail, restitution

KPTM Omaha logo KPTM Omaha 10/22/2021 NTV
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — Patrick Kopke has been ordered to pay back nearly $160,000 he stole from the Nebraska State Fair and serve time in jail.

Patrick Kopke previously made a no contest plea to three counts of theft by unlawful taking – more than $5,000. A judge accepted his plea and found him guilty in August.

Kopke abruptly resigned from the fair in November 2019, claiming the event was going bankrupt.

A state audit found Kopke had registered a business in 2019, and the fair had paid around $150,000 to that business without proper documentation.

Kopke made a brief statement, apologizing for his actions.

Prosecutors say he tarnished the reputation of the fair by taking money that they say he used to buy a pickup and pay off credit cards used “for lavish and frivolous spending.”

Kopke’s attorney says his client has a gambling addiction and is taking steps to address his problems.

Judge Andrew Butler was adamant that restitution needs to be paid and that Kopke needs to spend time in jail up front as a consequence for his actions.

Kopke was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 15 years probation. He's been ordered to pay $1000 a month.

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