State Sen. Cooper acquitted of all charges in land fraud case

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - A federal jury acquitted state Sen. Jerry Cooper on all charges in a fraud case after deliberating for less than an hour Friday.

The jury of 10 women and two men returned the verdict on the fourth day of the Democratic lawmaker's trial on charges of bank fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy.

The charges stemmed from the 1999 sale of Cooper's lumber mill to an Alabama businessman.

Cooper, 59, smiled while hugging family members and friends after the judge dismissed jurors and said he was "relieved."

"A lot of people have been praying and I really appreciate it," Cooper said. "It just goes to show you prayers work."

Cooper declined comment about his attorney's argument in court that he was charged because he is a politician. "I am too tired to answer that," he said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Humble declined comment as he left the courthouse.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) AP-NY-06-09-07 0501EDT