ABOUT MARY JANE COOPER
Ms. Cooper is an attorney with 36 years of relevant experience performing business integrity and compliance services including conducting thorough, independent, fair factual investigations into allegations of fraud, discrimination, sexual misconduct, mismanagement, technical issues, and violations of laws and internal and external regulations in a variety of business environments.
Ms Cooper began her unusual career in New Jersey’s elite Division of Criminal Justice, responsible for prosecuting difficult cases including white collar crimes and murders. After a successful career there, in 1989 she accepted an offer to join a small firm of lawyers whose practice was conducting independent investigations in the highly regulated nuclear industry. She was never to try another case. Indeed, she hardly ever stepped foot into a courtroom again. But her hard earned litigation skills would serve her clients well throughout the next 26 years.
Instead of a courtroom, Ms. Cooper stepped into a developing legal area that was counter-intuitive to many lawyers. Their clients had to know the truth about something that might me painful to them, usually what was happening in their companies. They had to investigate themselves, turn the results over to the nuclear regulatory commission, and honestly take whatever corrective action was required. The survival of their companies depended on it.
If there was something wrong, they had to know it rather than pretend that it did not exist and to let it fester until it destroyed the company. It was best that they found it themselves and cured or removed “the cancer”. This was a strategy that worked enormously well in the nuclear industry because the industry regulator could not police every plant.
Ms. Cooper’s independent investigations included:
– an electrical engineer who tried to falsely prove that failing polyurethane seals vital to safely shut down the reactor in the event of an accident were safe
– a welding engineer who claimed that he was competent and was fired because he was reporting safety concerns, but the investigation proved otherwises
– the human resources person who tried to keep his job managing the whistle blower program falsely claiming that the company was using the program to identify and fire whistleblowers
The benefits of independent investigations strategy spread beyond the nuclear and scientific field as the courts held that employers who received complaints of harassment and discrimination were required to conduct independent investigations into those allegations and take corrective action. Ms. Cooper had experience to conduct of independent investigations. Many outside counsel recommended her to their clients to conduct these investigations.
Ms Cooper’s methodology produced fair and thorough results which she provided in detailed reports to her clients. They, in turn, provided the reports to the complainants. The unassailable results in the report resolved the allegations without the enormous costs of litigation. It soon became evident to employers that this strategy could be employed in many situations besides discrimination and harassment, for example suspected internal defalcation and management issues. Once the employer understood the truth, he or she could take control and appropriately resolve the issues without fear of litigation.
In 2005, after 15 years in the private sector, Ms. Cooper returned to public service to serve as New Jersey’s first and only Statewide Independent Inspector General where in less than six years, the small but deft office she created identified well over one-half billion in wasted funds, earmarked a huge amount for return to the State Treasury. She provided evidence of the misdeeds of many high level State managers leading to their removal from office. Again, the strategy worked.
When the Office of independent Inspector General was eliminated in 2010, Ms. Cooper returned to the private sector where she is available to work with council to utilize the strategy to help employers who are interested to find the truth about what is happening in their companies and to solve problems that threaten the stability and existence of their companies.
WITHUM SMITH + BROWN
2013 - 2015
While part of the firm’s integrity monitoring program assisting entities by providing oversight and reporting requirements and designing and implementing corrective action programs; Ms. Cooper conducted independent investigations into charges of financial mismanagement discrimination retaliation and harassment for business entities.
INTEGRITAS CONSULTING GROUP LLC
2010 - 2012
Ms. Cooper was the leader of a professional team approved by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor to serve as Independent Private Inspectors General for companies required to retain monitoring services in order to continue to conduct business with those government entities.
THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
2005 - 2010
Ms. Cooper was New Jersey’s first and only Statewide Inspector General. Appointed by Governor Richard J. Codey with advice and consent of the State Senate; she served a 5 1/2 year term under Governors Codey Jon S. Corzine and Chris Christie.
RECOVERY ACCOUNTABILITY TASK FORCE
3/2009 - 6/2010
The group provided guidance to recipients of NJ’s billions of ARRA funds in meeting stringent reporting requirements assuring funds were spent appropriately and otherwise protecting funds. Under IG Cooper’s guidance OIG provided ethics internal controls,oversight and investigations training to public employees and other entities including internal controls training to the 1600 representatives of recipients of NJ’s $17 billion ARRA fund.
STIER ANDERSON LLP
Ms. Cooper gained 26 years of relevant experience in complex litigation investigation and business integrity services in both the public and private sector. Sixteen of those years were with the business integrity law firm of Stier Anderson. The firm was retained by publicly traded and privately held companies as well as government entities to conduct independent investigations into allegations of misuse of assets procurement fraud falsification of engineering analyses, mismanagement of safety issues conflict of interest discrimination and retaliation and to assist in designing and implementing corrective action programs. Cooper was also a member of the Firm's monitorship of the cleanup of the 9/11 bombing of the World Trade Center Attacks.
NJ DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
DAG Cooper was involved in all phases of litigation including investigations Grand Jury presentations motion practice bench and jury trials and appellate work. She was responsible for prosecuting crimes of violence including murders complicated frauds and multi-defendant trials. DAG Cooper worked with State Investigators and the New Jersey State Police on these cases. DAG Cooper was appointed Supervisor of a litigation and of a newly created Waterfront Crimes Unit.
College of New Jersey
BA degree in English Literature
Rutgers University School of Law Camden
JD Cum Laude
Admitted to practice law in New Jersey the District Court of New Jersey and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals
National Security Seminar at the Army War College
Certificate of Leader Development - National Security and Strategy
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Ms. Cooper conducted over 50 independent investigations in the private sector.
Representative cases that did not involve allegations of sexual harassment or discrimination include the following:
– Investigations of numerous complaints made to a “hot-line” at a nuclear plant requested by the Vice President of Nuclear of the Utility. The plant staff’s investigations into these complaints was challenged and a reinvestigation by an independent entity was required.
– An investigation requested by owners of a pipeline company into an allegation that management as using its employee safety complaint program to identify potential whistle blowers and remove them from employment at the company.
– An investigation on behalf of the Board of Trustees at a not-for-profit hospital into concerns that the CEO was misappropriating hospital funds for his own benefit. The allegations were substantiated, and the results were turned over to the appropriate prosecuting authorities.
– An investigation requested by the Board of Directors into audit findings of inadequately explained grossly excessive inventory of pole-line hardware at an electrical utility at the end of the pole-line hardware vendor’s contract. The investigation revealed that the inventory manager had accepted a bribe from the vendor in return for cleaning out the vendor’s excess stock.
– An investigation into an allegation requested by management at a utility that the Vice President of the Auditing Department had not disclosed to upper management that she was involved in a romantic relationship with a manager of a department which she audited creating a conflict of interest. The allegations was substantiated.
– An investigation requested by the Board of Directors of a utility into an allegation that the President of the utility had not disclosed to the Board that he was involved in a romantic relationship with the new Vice President of Communications, whom he had hired. This relationship created a conflict of interest potentially financially benefiting the Vice President and her former employer, in she which she maintained a financial interest and to whom she was directing large contracts. The allegation about the relationship was substantiated but no financial benefits were uncovered.
– An investigation requested by a new Vice President at a nuclear power plant into an allegation that seals protecting critical electrical components in containment were known by management to be beyond their useful life and could have failed during an accident but were left in place in order to keep the plant running rather than shut the utility down to replace the seals. The investigation revealed that the installed seals were well past their useful life; the Vice President shut down the plant and replaced the aged seals.
– An investigation requested by the same Vice President into why a test did not reveal that the seals were degraded beyond their useful life. The investigation revealed that the electrical engineer responsible for testing the seals rigged the test so that the seals could not fail.
– An investigation requested by the Board of Directors of a utility into allegations that the CEO/Chairman of the Board and other top managers of the electrical utility had been misappropriating utility funds for personal use for several years. The investigation revealed that the CEO/Chairman of the Board had intimidated the auditor to prevent the Board from learning that he and the entire upper level of managers were misusing their expense accounts in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
– An investigation requested by top management of a company that supplied equipment to nuclear facilities into allegations that a welding engineer had been terminated in retaliation for reporting safety concerns. This allegation had already been validated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff, and the company was about to be debarred from supplying equipment to nuclear facilities. The investigation revealed that the welding engineer was incompetent, that the safety concerns found were the result of his faulty procedures, and that his employment was actually terminated because of his incompetence. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission accepted Ms. Cooper’s findings over its staff’s findings and the company was able to continue to work in the nuclear industry.
– An investigation requested by the Board of Directors of a gas utility into audit findings that on a regular daily basis, the gas utility’s private gas trading partner made better gas trading deals than the utility traders even though the utility’s traders and the private partner’s traders were in the same market and on even footing. The investigation revealed the utility gas traders and the gas traders for the utility’s private partners were involved in a complicated scheme whereby at the end of the day, they shifted the better deals to the private entity. The investigation was able to calculate the loss to the rate payers. The evidence was provided to the prosecutor and the regulator.
Ms. Cooper has provided training on the methodology of conducting independent investigations and published on the subject.
Allegations of Sexual/Illegal Harassment and Discrimination Cases
Ms. Cooper led her firm’s efforts in conducting independent investigations into allegations of sexual and other illegal harassment and discrimination against high level managers for more than 20 employers. The employers’ counsel relied on the findings in Ms. Cooper’s reports to resolve matters without litigation.
Some representative matters resolved based on Ms. Cooper’s independent investigations include the following matters where she was retained by:
– A partnership of anesthesiologists to investigate sexual harassment of hospital staff nurses by one of group’s partners. The investigation revealed relationships between the partner and several hospital staff nurses, and some of the relationships were claimed to be non-consensual
– A publicly traded international electronics company to investigate an allegation of discrimination for failure to promote a female manager. The allegation was not substantiated.
– An international auto company to investigate charges of that management discriminated against an ethnic group of employees. The allegations were not substantiated.
– A large pharmaceutical company to resolve an allegation of harassment and discrimination of an employee by her manager when she ended an affair with the manager. The allegation was substantiated.
– A county government to investigate an allegation of sexual harassment and discrimination of an employee by the county executive after the employee ended an affair with the county executice. The allegation of a relationship was substantiated, but the allegation retaliation after the relationship ended was not.
– A school board to investigate an allegation of sexual abuse of a 16 year old student by a teacher after the county prosecutor had declined to charge the teacher. The board believed that prosecutor’s decision did not resolve the allegations and that it was not appropriate to allow the teacher to resume contact with students until the Board was certain the conduct had not occurred. The allegations gathered during the investigation substantiated the evidence that the teacher was having sexual contact with the student.
– A communications company to investigate an allegation by an employee that her manager had been repeatedly sexually assaulting her at the workplace and threatening to terminate her employment if she did not submit. The investigation revealed evidence that the manager had attempted to engage in a physical relationship with the employee; that the employee had tape recorded the conversation, and that the employee then threatened to reveal the tape recording if the supervisor did not provide her with money and other benefits.
– A school district to investigate an allegation of racial discrimination against of a student by a teacher. The investigation did not reveal evidene to substantiate the investigation.
– A School Board to investigate a complaint by a 22 year-old man that he had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by a female teacher when he was a minor student in the district. The investigation revealed evidence the substantiate the allegation.
– The State to investigate an allegation of sexual harassment of a staff member by a State College President. The investigation did not revel evidence to substantiate the allegation.
– A school district to investigate a Manager’s allegation of ethnic discrimination by co-workers. The investigation did not reveal evidence to substantiate the investigation the allegation. It did reveal evidence that the Manager was directing district employees to do work at his home during district time and paying them with overtime and other favorable district assignments.
– A publicly traded medical testing company to investigate an employee’s charge of rigging genetic testing. The investigations did not substantiate the allegation.
– An international publicly traded electronics company to investigate an allegation that an employee received a poor performance appraisal in retaliation for her law suit charging the company with ethnic and sexual discrimination against her. The investigation did not substantiate the allegation that she had been retaliated against with a poor performance apprisal.
Ms. Cooper has published articles on the benefits to employers from conducting independent investigations of allegations of harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Ms. Cooper first developed her skills for conducting independent investigations while serving as a prosecutor in the highly respected Division of Criminal Justice of the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office where for 10 years she was responsible for all phases of some of the State’s most serious crimes, including complicated financial frauds, murders and other violent crimes, and multi-defendant conspiracies. Her success was recognized and in addition to being assigned important and difficult cases, she was appointed to supervise a litigation section and the
Waterfront Crimes Unit.
Ms. Cooper was asked to join a small law firm that had been retained by the owner of the nuclear facility at Three Mile Island after the accident to conduct independent investigations into the many issues arising from the accident in hopes of convincing the regulator that the owner of the facility was worthy of operating a nuclear facility. The strategy was successful, the utility retained its license to operate nuclear power plants.
Following this success, the law firm was retained to conduct independent investigations for other nuclear licensees. During the next several years, Ms. Cooper’s unique experience included independent investigations into allegations of mismanagement at nuclear plants across the country. Ms. Cooper proved adept at becoming versed in esoteric highly technical issues central to the allegations, such as welding and electrical engineering, working alongside skilled engineers in order to conduct the in depth interviews of nuclear engineers in these investigations. She then wrote reports explaining the problems and resolutions.
Few independent investigators have had Ms. Cooper’s experience in conducting independent investigations of this technical nature. This experience sharpened her skills and prepared her for whatever complicated or difficult issues presented in the next investigation.
DISCRIMINATION & HARASSMENT
Since the late 20th century, when courts determined that employers must independently investigate allegations of discrimination, harassment or retaliation by management against their employees, many of Ms. Cooper’s investigations were into these allegations. More than 30 private attorneys have recommended her to their clients to independently investigate these allegations. Often these cases depend on interviews. Ms. Cooper brings her years of interview experience to this arena and has resolved numerous cases.
Ms. Cooper has conducted investigations into financial improprieties reporting to Boards of Directors, owners, and top management in a variety of sectors. She goes beyond directing the forensic audit team to determine if there was a loss and how much. More importantly, she determines how many individuals are responsible for the loss since the client realizes that if those responsible are not identified, the company’s financial health remains at risk.
Ms. Cooper’s background includes investigating theft and understanding conspiracies. Her internal investigations can answer the questions: “How did this happen in my company?” and “How am I sure that I have gotten to the root of the problem?” and “How can I be sure that it will not happen again?” She has done this in a variety of business sectors.
STATEWIDE INSPECTOR GENERAL
Ms. Cooper is perhaps most proud of the opportunity she had to serve the public as New Jersey’s Statewide Inspector General from 2005 to 2010. In 2005, Ms. Cooper’s skills and her integrity were recognized when she was appointed New Jersey’s first and only Statewide Inspector General by Governor Richard J. Codey with the advice and consent of the State Senate. She served a 5 1/2 year term under Governors Codey, Jon S. Corzine, and Chris Christie. Ms. Cooper established the new Office of Inspector General: adopting policies and procedures, hiring and training investigative staff, overseesing and conducting independent investigations; producing detailed; self- proving public reports; designing and overseeing corrective actions, including legislation, entity reorganization, improved policies and procedures; staff training programs and management accountability.
Ms. Cooper established a statewide Citizen Complaint Program in the Office with Hotline and e-mail connections and anonymous capability. It received over 700 concerns that were evaluated, investigated, and outcomes tracked. She assisted other State entities establish Citizen Complaint programs.
Demonstrating Ms. Cooper’s efficiency as an investigator, in her Inspector General‘s Office’s 5 ½ years of existence, with a budget never exceeding $2.5 million and a staff never exceeding 18, her office identified well over one-half billion dollars of wasted public funds, prevented the loss of or identified for return to the State Treasury another $50,000,000, and identified the misdeeds of several high level State managers who were held accountable for their actions. Ms. Cooper public reports as Inspector General can be read on the NJ State Comptroller’s website.
As Inspector General, Ms. Cooper became a trusted advisor to Governors, Legislators, Commissioners and other high level State officers interested in operating open and honest government. She often met with them about a variety of issues and testified frequently about governmental issues.
ARRA TASK FORCE
Ms. Cooper was a member of the Task Force created by Governor Corzine coincident with the passage of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Task Force provided guidance to recipients of NJ’s $17 billion ARRA funds in meeting stringent reporting requirements, assuring funds were spent appropriately, and otherwise protecting funds. Ms. Cooper provided ethics, internal controls, oversight, and investigations training to the 1,600 representatives of recipients of NJ’s funds. The trainings were made available as a reference on a State website.
▪ Member of the Association of Inspectors General
▪ Charter Member of the New York New Jersey Chapter of Association of Inspectors General serving on the Board of Directors; as Third, then Second Vice President; and Chairperson of the Training Committee
▪ Member of the New Jersey State Bar Association (member of the Labor and Employment Law Section and the Women in the Profession Section)
▪ Member of the Mercer County Bar Association and the Mercer County Inn of Court
▪ Mentor to the Seton Hall Law School Carpe Diem Society
▪ Advisor to the Ethics Board of the City of Trenton
▪ Reviewer of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity publication for State oversight statutes and regulations
▪ Invitee to the 2016 US Army National Security Seminar
▪ Ms. Cooper was recognized by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor to serve as an Independent Private Inspector General for companies required to retain monitoring services in order to continue to conduct business with those government entities
▪ Several published articles on the methodology of independent investigations and the benefits of conducting independent investigations
▪ Seminar at John Jay College on Inspectors General Offices
▪ Several lectures on the benefits of independent investigations and how to conduct them