Former Nebraska State Fair finance director Patrick Kopke, accused of embezzling from the fair, has waived a jury trial. Kopke has pleaded Not Guilty to 3 counts of felony theft of more than $5,000.
The 30-year old Kopke is accused of stealing what court documents describe as “movable property” from the State Fair on three separate occasions in 2019. He faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
Kopke abruptly resigned as fair finance director in November 2019, claiming the event was going bankrupt.
A state audit released last July found the fair had written 2 checks totalling almost $150,000 to a private company Kopke had registered in 2019 and that there was no apparent benefit to the fair from the money.
The month audit accessed the records of the company, RKBB Enterprises, and of Kopke, concluding the state fair checks had been used for the purchase of a pickup, an ATV, and a trailer as well as processing fee on the purchase of farm land.
The audit also said the pickup, ATV, and trailer had all been sold or traded after Kopke resigned his State Fair position in late 2019.