NEWTOWN, Conn. — A Kansas man was sentenced Friday to three years of federal probation for defrauded contributors to a Sandy Hook-related organization he set up after the deadly 2012 school shootings in Newtown.
Robert Terry Bruce, 35, was also ordered Friday by U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to spend the first six months of his sentence in home confinement, said U.S. Attorney for Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in the aftermath of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Bruce founded the 26.4.26 Foundation. A total of 20 first-graders and six educators were killed in the shootings.
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. He promoted the event via social media, and solicited contributions to 26.4.26 through an online PayPal account by representing to donors that 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 also said 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, he promoted the event via social media, and solicited contributions to 26.4.26 through PayPal with similar promises.
Instead of using all of the donated funds to support his purported mission, Bruce used $28,657.31 of the money to enrich himself and to support his personal training business.
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 Feb. 13, 2015. On May 12, 2016, he pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.
This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan Wines.