Helen L. Cooper
Acting Counsel to the Inspector General
Helen L. Cooper currently serves as Acting Counsel to the Inspector General. Helen is on temporary assignment to the OIG in this role; since 2009, Helen has served as Special Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Oregon, working with the Department of Justice from within the Social Security Administration's (SSA) Office of the General Counsel (OGC).
Prior to joining SSA, Helen was in private practice for more than 20 years. For 10 years, Helen worked in a small private firm that emphasized criminal defense and plaintiff’s litigation; she eventually became a partner in the firm. She also worked for more than 10 years as a sole practitioner with an emphasis on criminal defense, search and seizure law, asset forfeiture, and appellate advocacy in state and federal courts in Oregon, Washington, and the Ninth Circuit. When Helen left private practice to join SSA, she brought with her extensive courtroom experience.
Since joining the SSA's OGC in 2009, Helen has been Region X’s fraud prosecutor for the District of Oregon. Helen and her OIG team have obtained more than 90 criminal convictions and secured more than $5 million in restitution judgments. OGC’s prosecution results were acknowledged by former SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue in 2012, when he awarded a Commissioner’s Citation to the Fraud Prosecution Project for its outstanding efforts in combating fraud.
In 2010, in collaboration with the OIG, Helen co-founded the Social Services Fraud Working Group, which brought together numerous state and federal law enforcement agencies to combine resources and combat fraud against social service programs. Based on the successful work group model in Oregon, similar work groups were started in Seattle, Washington, and Anchorage, Alaska. Helen also frequently trains SSA employees, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors; she and her agents present anti-fraud training to SSA field offices, DDS groups, and state and federal prosecutors.
Helen’s roots are in the Pacific Northwest. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Oregon State University and a JD from Willamette College of Law.