Ex-State Fair finance director pleads no contest to theft

Nebraska News

In this photo from Aug. 25, 2011, workers assemble a merry-go-round at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island. The Nebraska State Fair’s new home in Grand Island places it closer to the center of the state, but the move from Lincoln four years ago has created a potential opening for Iowa. Both fairs are advertising to Omaha residents, but organizers say they aren’t competing. They argue that the fairs are scheduled at different times of the month, and offer different concerts and events. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — The former finance director of the Nebraska State Fair has pleaded no contest to three counts of felony theft of money from the fair.

Thirty-year-old Patrick Kopke entered the plea Tuesday and faces up to 20 years in prison on each charge when he is sentenced in October.

Kopke 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.

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