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January 03, 2013

Former N.Y. Park Chief Accused of Nonprofit Theft Dies

The longtime top administrator at a New York City park who was awaiting trial on charges of embezzling from a nonprofit group she founded died Saturday at age 82 of complications due to diabetes-related surgery, says The New York Times.

Estelle Cooper was indicted last year for allegedly stealing more than $50,000 from Unisphere, a charity she launched in 2003 to raise money for Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. She served 17 years as the park's head but retired from the city position in January 2012 after the theft allegations surfaced.

Her attorney, Vito. A. Palmieri, said he had been in talks with prosecutors about resolving the case but that Ms. Cooper would have fought the charges if not for her ill health. "We’d rather let the 50 years of the good work be her legacy, rather than the one bad thing that came up," he said.