Former SEANC director released on bond

Posted August 4, 2015

— Dana Cope, the former director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, turned himself in Tuesday morning, a day after he was indicted by a Wake County grand jury on two counts of obtaining property by false pretense.

Flanked by his wife, Melinda, and attorney, Roger Smith Jr., Cope arrived about 10 a.m. at the Wake County Detention Center. He was released less than four hours later after posting a $200,000 bond and declined to comment as he left.

"The investigation has been going on for some time. He now faces formal charges, of course. He continues to cooperate," Smith said. "I don't want to get into the full details of what that cooperation means, but we have been meeting with the State Bureau of Investigation. Of course, those folks were down here today. We will continue to meet with them and work through everything."

Cope, 46, of 1900 Sturbridge Court in Raleigh, is accused of using SEANC's credit cards to pay for personal items totaling $457,500.52, such as plastic surgery, home renovations, appliances, vacations, hotel rooms, massages, clothing, jewelry, electronic games and equipment.

He is also accused of submitting fake invoices to get checks, which he used to pay for flying lessons, vacations and landscaping totaling $113,346.05, according to the indictment.

Cope resigned in February after Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman asked the SBI to look into spending irregularities at SEANC, such as a $19,000 check paid to a Washington, D.C., computer company that was reportedly cashed by an Apex landscaping company doing work at Cope’s home.

An audit, conducted by national accounting firm Bond Beebe, found Cope “fabricated” an invoice for the $19,000 check, which was deposited by the landscaping company. The audit also found only about $14,000 paid to the company was legitimate, while another $94,500 in payments were “excessive.”

Other findings included:

  • Cope did not reimburse SEANC for nearly $15,000 in travel expenses for a trip to Asia taken by family members.
  • Cope used SEANC funds to buy more than $31,000 in private flying lessons.
  • Cope received about $17,200 in reimbursement for questionable charges or items missing receipts.
  • Cope used the SEANC credit card more than 2,000 times between October 2012 and February 2015 to charge nearly $405,000. Of that amount, about $361,000 was for questionable or undocumented items, such as women’s accessories, car washes, online retail purchases, hotels, airlines, restaurants, iTunes and online gaming.

Mitch Leonard, who followed Cope as SEANC executive director, said the 5,500-member organization is working to recoup the money and implement changes, including many of the recommendations made by Bond Beebe in the report. Among the changes, no check can be issued without proper documentation, a credit limit of $5,000 has been set and credit card charges are allowed only for fuel and hotel expenses unless approved by a supervisor.

Cope is due back in court next Tuesday.

"He will certainly come back to court to answer these charges, and we look forward to going through the process," Smith said.


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  • Elizabeth Anne Wells Aug 5, 2015
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    Let's face it...this clown is never going to pay back any of the money he embezzled from the SEANC. My hope is that he receives the maximum term of 92 months for each sentence to run back to back. And, we will see if he still has that smirk on his face after serving 85% of that time.

  • Terry Lightfoot Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    this is why I could never be a defense attorney...this guy used SEANC as his piggy bank, the brazenessof his charges are mind blowing! Could he be ordered as part of his sentence to fly all State gvt employees around for $1.00per hour?

  • Megan Waldron Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    The arrogance of this guy (and his wife): Declared bankruptcy in 2011, and wiped out 109K in credit card debt in 2014; then steals OUR money, and THEN hires the highest paid defense team in the area and marches into court, well dressed wife in arm?!?! Just, wow.

  • Paul Donovan Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    He has nothing to do with the state. I assume you meant his Union Credit Card

  • Roy Hinkley Aug 4, 2015
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    View quoted thread

    He is presumed innocent until proven guilty. At this point, the justice system assumes his bail money is legitimate.

  • Mike Rigsbee Aug 4, 2015
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    They let this guy post bond with stolen assets? Are you kidding me? How do they know where this bond money came from? Has he paid back all that he embezzled already? If not, then you can only assume the bond money is tainted money.

  • Jason Starcommand Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    Wonder if he posted bond with a state credit card.

  • Jayne Stitzel Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    Obtaining property by false pretens... Sounds so much better than STEALING. The man is a thief. Get the money back and put him in jail. And investigate back to when he first started as head of SEANC, bet he was STEALING the whole time. The entire board should also be under investigation for complete mismanagement.

  • Christie Evans Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    That is the maximum punishment per charge. He could, and should be put away for a very long time!

  • Cabe Merritt Aug 4, 2015
    user avatar

    This guy should get the maximum punishment. 92 months ISN'T enough.