Ex-Lawmaker Is Convicted of Lying in Voter Pamphlet
Former Rep. Wes Cooley was convicted Tuesday of falsely claiming in a state voter guide that he served with the Army in Korea, even though military records and witnesses show he never left the United States during the 1950-'53 Korean War.
Cooley, 64, was placed on two years’ probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and pay $7,110 in fines and prosecution costs.
In a plea agreement, the former Republican congressman offered no defense before Circuit Judge Albin Norblad found him guilty.
One of two counts of lying in official documents was dropped under the bargain.
Cooley, who left office in January under pressure from his own party after just one term, had listed “Army, Special Forces, Korea” among his qualifications in the 1994 voter guide for the primary and general election.
Cooley also once falsely claimed to be a Phi Beta Kappa. When he first ran for the Legislature, he moved his trailer less than a mile inside his district just long enough to establish residency. That earned him the nickname “Wanderin’ Wes.”
A federal grand jury is investigating whether he lied about when he got married so his wife could fraudulently continue to collect benefits as the widow of a Marine.
Retired Army Sgt. Clifford Poppy, who was identified by Cooley as his commanding officer in Korea, had testified earlier that the ex-congressman never served overseas.
He vaguely remembered Cooley serving under him as a trainee at Ft. Bragg, N.C.
Poppy, who did serve in Korea, said Tuesday that the sentence was too light.
“Hey, the guy has been a con artist all his life and now he just conned the whole state of Oregon, the judge and the legal system,” Poppy said.
Cooley could have gotten up to 10 years in prison and $200,000 in fines.
“Mr. Cooley took this deal because he is tired of fighting,” said his lawyer, Walter Todd.