Old-As-Dirt Former Queens Parks Director Might Have To Go To Prison For 15 Years

While many 82-year-old Queens women opt to spend the winter months in places like Florida, there's a chance one of the borough's former parks commissioners will be spending hers in the hoosgow -- where she could potentially be spending the next 15 years.

The Queens District Attorney's Office announced this afternoon the indictment of Estelle Cooper, 82 -- who until December served as the commissioner of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and executive director of Unisphere, Inc., a nonprofit conservancy group that she helped establish and which funds activities at the park -- for allegedly stealing money from the conservancy.

According to authorities, an internal audit conducted by Unisphere Inc. showed that between November 1, 2007, and December 31, 2011, Cooper ripped off more than $50,000 from Unisphere's coffers -- and that was on top of the more than $101,000 she was paid annually by taxpayers to run the park.

The alleged theft was discovered in November 2011, and brought to the attention of authorities in February of this year.

The Queens District Attorney's Office declined comment when asked for further details of Cooper's alleged crimes.

In all, Cooper's been charged with second- and third-degree grand larceny. She was released on her own recognizance.

If convicted, Cooper faces up to 15 years in prison. Her next court appearance is scheduled for September 12.

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