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Cooper's Attorney Says Senator Worked 'Undercover'

(Story created: 11/9/06)

We've all heard about the secret tape recordings that the FBI made as part of Operation Tennessee Waltz.

But now there's a claim that a powerful state lawmaker may have been involved in some sort of undercover operation.

Our chief investigative reporter Phil Williams has The Inside Story:

Over the past few years, several folks on Capitol Hill have been wired with recording devices.
In most cases, they were taping unsuspecting lawmakers.

But was one state senator one of those who wore a wire?

State Senator Jerry Cooper, as you'll remember, is currently awaiting trial on federal bank fraud charges.

It all involves Cooper's sale of a sawmill that he owned.

At first, the investigation just focused on Anthony Auyer -- the man who bought Cooper's land, thanks to some government grants and loans he got with the senator's help.

After I revealed how Cooper had personally profited off his position, the criminal investigation then took aim at him.

Now, Cooper wants to see evidence that his attorney says will show he had secretly worked -- in his words -- "undercover."

Cooper's attorney says, in a court filing, that the senator "acted undercover and wore a wire... while cooperating in a criminal investigation of Anthony Auyer by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation."

It's not clear why Cooper felt the need to wear a wire.

But, in another filing, Cooper's lawyer reveals that the evidence includes some 27 audiotapes.

Again, it's not clear what's on those tapes.

Still, it raises the question about whether the senator may have also been the target of someone else's undercover operation.

Right now, there's no word on when Cooper will go on trial.

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