Hawkins commissioner linked to misappropriation

SURGOINSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A report by the office of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury accuses longtime Surgoinsville official Hanes Cooper of misappropriating more than $65,000 since 1998 in his capacity as a commissioner on the Surgoinsville Water Utility.

Cooper is not charged with a crime, but District Attorney General Berkeley Bell told the Kingsport Times-News Monday that he anticipates the evidence will be presented to a Hawkins County grand jury.

Numerous attempts to contact Cooper via his cell phone, home phone and office phone at the Surgoinsville Water Utility were unsuccessful. Employees at the utility told the Times-News that Cooper had been in and out of the office Monday.

Cooper was mayor of Surgoinsville most recently from 2002 to 2006 but had previously served on the Surgoinsville Board of Mayor and Aldermen for nearly four decades as either mayor or alderman. He also is a member of the Hawkins County Commission.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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