Tennessee man charged with fraud for fake Newtown charity

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 18, 2015 10:00 AM

By Richard Weizel

MILFORD, Conn. (Reuters) - A Tennessee man who U.S. prosecutors contend set up a fraudulent charity tied to the 2012 massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school will face wire-fraud charges, federal officials said.

Robert Bruce, a 34-year-old personal trainer from Nashville, will be indicted in U.S. District Court in Hartford, Connecticut, on six counts of wire fraud on Monday for what prosecutors contend was a scheme in which he collected an unspecified amount of donations intended for victims' families and school safety that he spent on himself.

Adam Lanza, 20, killed 26 children and educators in the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown before turning a gun on himself.

"This arrest serves as a warning to anyone who attempts to profit from the tragedy at Sandy Hook," U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly said.

Federal prosecutors said Bruce collected the money through an online payment service and spent most of it on himself and his personal training business, rather than on the charity, as he promised. Authorities declined to provide the total amount collected by Bruce.

The charity solicited donations through athletic events, such as one in New Hampshire, a "Schools 4 Schools" run, and another in Tennessee called "Cross Fit Cares."

Bruce promoted the events via social media, and solicited contributions through an online account by telling potential donors the purpose of the events was "to help raise funds for increased school safety, families of victims, memorials to teacher heroes, awareness and prevention in schools across America," federal prosecutors said.

Bruce could face up to 20 years in prison on each count if convicted. He could not be reached for immediate comment.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Doina Chiacu)