50-year-old man pleads guilty to having 2 wives CENTRAL COUNTY--Arnold * Broadneck * Severna Park * Crownsville * Millersville

July 27, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A 50-year-old lab technician admitted in Circuit Court yesterday that he had two wives, but he had little to say and later declined to discuss his situation.

Thomas John Cooper, whose addresses are listed as the first block of Fairways Lakes Drive in Dover, Del., where he is now living with his first wife, and the 300 block of Volley Court in Arnold, where he lived with his second, pleaded guilty to bigamy before Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen Rogers told the court Mr. Cooper was married in New Castle County, Del., in 1965, and married a second time in 1984 in Anne Arundel County without a divorce.

Marriage records show Mr. Cooper married Mary Suzanne Watters on June 8, 1984, in a ceremony at the Anne Arundel County Courthouse presided over by an assistant county clerk.

In her marriage license application, Ms. Watters said she was 25 and he was 41, and that they lived together on the 200 block of Prince George St. in Annapolis.

According to charging documents, Mr. Cooper had married the former Jean O'Keefe on June 11, 1965, at the Asbury Methodist Church in New Castle County, Del.

L Neither Mary Cooper nor Jean Cooper were in court yesterday.

Ms. Rogers said Mr. Cooper apparently acted out of a kind of misguided love -- wanting his second marriage to work when his first one wasn't quite over.

"He was interviewed and indicated that in 1982 or '83, he had asked for a divorce and that his first wife refused," she told Judge Thieme.

His first wife did not ever know about the second wife, she said.

Throughout the second marriage, he continued to support his first wife, telling the second wife he was in financial straits because of the steep alimony payments required by his divorce from wife number one, she said.

Mr. Cooper, a lab technician at Southern Maryland Hospital, was charged after the second wife needed leg surgery and her mother discovered the marriage while she helped handle the extensive paperwork the hospitalization required, Ms. Rogers said.

Prosecutors said bigamy carries a maximum nine-year prison sentence.

The most recent case in Anne Arundel County involved a former Army sergeant, who was charged after a wife living in the county contacted his superior officer at his Virginia Army base.

Frederick E. Welk Jr. was sentenced in 1982 to three years' supervised probation by Judge H. Chester Goudy Jr.

Ms. Rogers said yesterday she will not seek any incarceration when Mr. Cooper is sentenced Sept. 20.

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