Former state association executive director sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WEST ALLIS, Wis.—Marsha Kopan, the former executive director of the Illinois Electronic Security Association who was a year ago arrested and investigated on forgery and check fraud charges, was convicted at the end of June with three class G felony counts of theft in an amount greater than $10,000.

According to public records from the state of Wisconsin, Kopan will be held responsible for repaying stolen money totaling $388,053.41. The payments will be made "in the amounts of: $22,880.32 to US Society of Ecological Economics; $328,081.09 to International Society of Ecological Economists; $12,092 to Illinois Electronic Security Association; and $25,000 to CNA [an insurer that paid a dishonest employee claim to one of the victims]."

Public records affirm that the Wisconsin department of corrections will collect money from Kopan's prison wages at Taycheedah Correctional Institution in Wisconsin to pay victims back at a rate of 25 percent, with the IESA being paid first because they were the only association with agents present at the sentencing.

According to IESA president Chet Donati, who was present at the sentencing, the association bears Kopan no ill will.

"As I was coming out of the courtroom, her attorney was there," Donati told Security Systems News. "I said to him, 'Would you please tell Marsha I'm sorry she did what she did and I wish her nothing but the best.' I spoke up on her behalf, but it was what it was."

Kopan's sentence began immediately following the sentencing hearing in June.

"Kopan is presently serving 30 months in prison. That prison term will be followed by 60 months extended supervision—the equivalent of parole," assistant district attorney for Milwaukee County Kurt Benkley told Security Systems News. "Wisconsin operates under a 'truth in sentencing' law. So, the 30 months prison sentence means Kopan will really sit in prison for 30 months."

Donati said that while technically a "win" for the association, Kopan's sentencing aroused mixed feelings.

"We'll be the first ones to get our money back. We were the only ones [out of the associations from which Kopan embezzled] who had any insurance coverage," Donati said. "It just doesn’t pay to steal. Nobody was a winner here. Her house is up for sale and any value realized in that will go to the state. It's a loss for everybody."