Queens, NY, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced Tuesday that Estelle Cooper, the former administrator of Flushing Meadows Park and executive director of Unisphere, Inc., a nonprofit conservancy group that she helped establish and which funds activities at the park, has been indicted on charges that she stole in excess of $50,000 from the conservancy.
Cooper, 82, of Whitestone, was arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho on a two-count indictment charging her with second- and third-degree grand larceny. She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted and was released on her own recognizance. Her next court date is Sept. 12.
The alleged fraud was initially discovered in November 2011 as a result of an internal audit conducted by Unisphere, Inc., which referred the results of the audit to the Queens District Attorney’s Office in February.
The matter was presented to a Queens County grand jury, which charged that Cooper obtained access to Unisphere funds and then systematically stole more than $50,000 between Nov. 1, 2007, and Dec. 31, 2011.
Cooper resigned as executive director of Unisphere, Inc., last December. The following month she tendered her resignation as administrator of Flushing Meadows Park and as assistant commissioner with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
She said she resigned to head a new political consulting firm in Queens with her grandson.