JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A Poinsett County company is asking for a full and complete accounting of the over $8.9 million they say that a Jonesboro couple wrongly and improperly took possession of, including a jury trial in the case.
According to an amended complaint filed Dec. 26 in Craighead County Circuit Court by Little Rock-based law firm Friday, Eldridge and Clark, Roach Manufacturing Corporation is seeking answers from Edward M. Cooper Jr. and Lanita C. Cooper.
“For more than 20 years, Ed Cooper was the sole, exclusive, trusted accountant providing Roach expertise and guidance in bookkeeping, accounting, financial systems, financial reporting, tax matters and tax filings,” the firm said in the filing. “Roach has just recently discovered that Ed Cooper through betrayal of trust, deceit, manipulation and forgery has unlawfully stolen and embezzled in excess of $8.9 million from Roach, beginning in at least 1996.”
The company filed a complaint earlier this year, alleging they believed Ed Cooper had embezzled $4.5 million from the company since 2007.
The amended complaint also alleges that the couple “have lived a lavish lifestyle of spending and consuming the stolen funds of Roach for their own personal benefit.”
“The Coopers lived a lifestyle of annually spending more than ten times their earnings, year after year, for the past twenty years. The past five years provide a clear example of the active participation of both Ed Cooper and Lanita Cooper in this scheme,” attorneys allege in the complaint. “In each of these years, the Coopers signed and filed joint tax returns showing that their combined gross income was between $50,000 and $70,000. During those same years, their joint bank accounts and credit card records show they were spending in excess of $600,000 each year.”
The complaint also alleges that Cooper did not follow a fiduciary duty to the company.
“As a fiduciary of Roach, Ed Cooper owed a duty to Roach to act with utmost good faith, loyalty and honesty. Ed Cooper breached that duty to Roach through an absolute betrayal of trust, with lies, manipulation, fraud, cheating and stealing for his own and Lanita Cooper’s personal benefit and gratification at the expense of Roach, the party to whom he owed the highest fiduciary duty,” attorneys alleged in the complaint.
In the complaint, attorneys allege there was a paper trail that provides clues as to where the money went.
“The Coopers spent what is believed to be in excess of $2 million in developing, building, decorating and accessorizing a cabin and related structures on the Spring River in Fulton County. They regularly traveled. They bought jewelry and furs. They exercised no restraint over a period exceeding twenty years in living and spending like millionaires, using the money stolen from Roach,” the amended complaint noted. “Every asset of any value which is now in possession of the Coopers, either jointly or individually, is traceable to the theft of in excess of $8.9 million from Roach.”
In the complaint, Roach is alleging fraud and embezzlement by Ed Cooper, breach of fiduciary duty by Ed Cooper, conversion by Ed Cooper and Lanita Cooper, unjust enrichment by Ed Cooper and Lanita Cooper, liability for commission of a felony by Ed Cooper and Lanita Cooper, civil conspiracy by Ed Cooper and Lanita Cooper and imposition of constructive trust by the Coopers.