Man Who Defrauded Contributors to Sandy Hook-Related Charity is Sentenced
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ROBERT TERRY BRUCE, 35, of Overland Park, Kan., formerly of Nashville, Tenn., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to three years of probation, the first six months of which BRUCE must spend in home confinement, for defrauding contributors to an organization he established after the December 2012 school shootings in Newtown.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in the aftermath of the December 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, BRUCE founded the 26.4.26 Foundation. The 26.4.26 Foundation solicited charitable donations for a variety of purposes, including “to help raise funds for increased school safety, families of victims, memorials to teacher heroes, awareness and prevention in schools across America.”
In early 2013, BRUCE solicited and received contributions to 26.4.26 in connection with a charity athletic event in Gilford, N.H., called the Schools 4 Schools run. BRUCE promoted the event via social media, and solicited contributions to 26.4.26 through an online PayPal account by representing to potential donors that the purpose of the event was “to help raise funds for increased school safety, families of victims, memorials to teacher heroes, awareness and prevention in schools across America.” BRUCE further represented to potential donors that “all proceeds will go to the 26.4.26 Foundation.”
Also in early 2013, BRUCE solicited contributions to 26.4.26 in connection with a charity athletic event in Tennessee called CrossFit Cares. As he had in the New Hampshire event, BRUCE promoted the event via social media, and solicited contributions to 26.4.26 through PayPal by representing to potential donors that “all proceeds will go to the 26.4.26 Foundation” and that the “mission of 26.4.26 is to provide funding for the families of victims, memorials for teacher heroes and to increase safety in schools across the country.”
Instead of using all of the donated funds to support his purported mission, BRUCE used $28,657.31 of donated funds to enrich himself and to support his personal training business. Judge Thompson ordered BRUCE to pay restitution in that amount to the Sandy Hook Special Revenue Fund, which is administered by the Newtown Board of Selectmen.
BRUCE was arrested on February 13, 2015. On May 12, 2016, he pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Wines.