Ex-Nebraska State Fair finance director pleads not guilty to theft

Nebraska News

Jaba Horn 13, of Brady, Neb., runs to get on as many rides, at the Nebraska State Fair, before the early afternoon rain fall during the first day of the Nebraska State Fair at Fonner Park, Friday, Aug. 26, 2011 in Grand Island, Neb. (AP Photo/The Lincoln Journal-Star, Brynn Anderson)

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The former finance chief of the Nebraska State Fair has pleaded not guilty to felony theft charges.

Twenty-nine-year-old Patrick Kopke is charged with three counts of felony theft by unlawful taking.

A state audit found that a company he created was paid nearly $150,000 in state fair funds but there were no invoices proving the company did any work for the fair.

Auditors allege Kopke used bank accounts connected to the company to pay more than $100,000 in personal expenses.

Kopke had been scheduled for arraignment Tuesday but waived the court appearance.

He resigned from the state fair last year.

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