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Former school district treasurer faces criminal theft charges

The Reynolds High accounting teacher is the subject of an embezzlement probe

A Reynolds High School accounting teacher under investigation for embezzlement now faces criminal charges.

Cheryl Cooper, a former treasurer for the teachers' union, was charged with one count of first-degree aggravated theft on Sept. 5. She is accused of pilfering more than $150,000 from the teachers' union, over a period of nearly six years.

Cooper, 54, first came under suspicion last March, after union officers noticed irregularities in the union accounts and began an internal investigation.

One month later, Cooper resigned from her position as treasurer and, according to former union president Tammy Sykes, made a 'good faith payment' of $50,000.

Union officers filed a report with Gresham Police on June 15, outlining the results of their internal investigation. Cooper, who was making about $61,000 a year as an accounting teacher at Reynolds High, has been on unpaid leave since June and her position has since been filled by another teacher, said Wayne Travillion, director of human resources for the Reynolds district.

Police filed formal charges against Cooper earlier this month and accused the teacher of embezzling union funds from November 2000 through March 2006.

The missing money came from union dues, not from taxpayers, and Sykes said the teachers' union has since changed its accounting system so no one person is in charge of the finances.

Court officials said Dennis Shen, the prosecuting district attorney, is on vacation, but will review Cooper's case next week. The case will next be presented to a grand jury.