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Johnson County prosecutor set to resign after domestic violence sentencing

Johnson County Prosecutor Bradley Cooper, 51, pleaded guilty April 15, 2019, to charges in connection to accusations that he beat his former fiancée and held her against her will inside his Trafalgar home March 4 and 5. (Provided Photo/Johnson County Sheriff's Office)

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) — The Johnson County prosecutor will resign Wednesday after his sentencing for a March domestic violence incident, according to an amended plea agreement obtained by News 8.

Bradley Cooper pleaded guilty in April to charges in connection to accusations that he beat his former fiancée and held her against her will inside his Trafalgar home March 4 and 5.

According to court documents, Cooper hit his fiancée, causing an injury to her right eye, and held her against her will in his home. That’s when she escaped to a nearby neighbor’s home to call 911.

Court documents show Cooper also pretended to be the victim in electronic messages he sent to someone else.

Cooper on April 15 pleaded guilty to these charges:

  • Criminal confinement – Level 6 felony, entered for conviction as a class A misdemeanor
  • Domestic battery – Class A misdemeanor
  • Identity deception – Level 6 felony
  • Official misconduct – Level 6 felony

As part of his plea deal, Cooper will not serve any time in jail. Instead, he will serve 540 days of supervised probation, pay a domestic violence fee and participate in a counseling program.

Instead of his initial plea agreement, an amended conditional plea agreement filed Tuesday by the Johnson County clerk shows that the criminal confinement charge will be entered for conviction as a level 6 felony, and the official misconduct charge will be entered as a class A misdemeanor.

Cooper can petition the court to convert the confinement charge to a misdemeanor in April 2022. He can petition for the identity deception charge to be converted to a misdemeanor as soon as he completes the conditions of his probation.

According to the amended plea agreement signed Monday, Cooper will resign if his plea deal is accepted. That is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Hancock Superior Court with special prosecutor Douglas Brown of Decatur County.

Cooper, a Republican, has worked in the prosecutor’s office since 1994. He was appointed prosecutor in 2009 in a Republican caucus to fill the vacancy left when Lance Hamner left the position after being elected judge of Johnson County Superior Court 3, according to WISH-TV’s newsgathering partners at the Daily Journal.

Cooper ran for prosecutor unopposed in the 2010, 2014 and 2018 elections.

According to the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, when Cooper resigns, the Johnson County Republican Party will need to conduct a caucus to appoint someone to complete the rest of Cooper’s term, which ends in 2022.

In the interim, Chief Deputy Joseph Villanueva is acting prosecutor.

Cooper must report his felony conviction to the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission within 10 days. Then the commission’s executive director, G. Michael Witte, will report the conviction to the Indiana Supreme Court and request that Cooper be suspended, according to Kathryn Dolan, public information officer with the Indiana Supreme Court.

In a Tuesday statement to News 8, Dolan said a question about Cooper’s salary was pending review:

There is currently a question regarding Bradley Cooper’s salary.  The matter is under review by the Indiana Office of Judicial Administration (OJA) and the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.  It is a matter of public record that prosecutors are paid the 2019 annual salary of $151,137. The salary is paid from the Indiana Supreme Court’s Office of Judicial Administration budget, which administers payroll for prosecutors. Mr. Cooper has been receiving his annual salary this year until late last week when the OJA placed Mr. Cooper in no-pay status pending review of the matter. 

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