AG’s Office To Appeal “Inadequate” Sentence In State Fair Embezzlement


     The former finance director of the Nebraska State Fair has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and 15 years’ probation for stealing more than $100,000 from the fair.

      30-year-old Patrick Kopke was also ordered to pay more than $158,000 restitution to the State Fair and undergo counseling for a gambling addiction, but the attorney general’s office says intends to appeal for a harsher sentence.

      Kopke pleaded no contest in August to three counts of felony theft. He was charged after a state audit showed a company he created had been paid nearly $150,000 from state funds but did not perform any work for the fair. 

     The auditors said Kopke used bank accounts from the company to pay more than $100,000 in personal expenses, and they said other questionable financial transactions were tied to him, as well.

      Prosecutors had asked that Kopke get 5-to-10 years in prison, leading the Attorney General’s office to issue a statement saying it’s disappointed with the sentence, which it calls “inadequate.”

     The statement says Kopke was put in a position of public trust and admitted to violating that trust when he pled guilty to a felony that involved embezzling over $150,000 from the State Fair.