HAMMOND — A Valparaiso businessman admitted Monday in federal court he defrauded two area medical firms of $316,450.
Robert C. Bruns pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joshua Kolar to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft charges that carry a maximum penalty of more than 20 years imprisonment.
The U.S. attorney’s office is recommending Bruns receive a reduced sentence under an agreement in which Bruns is giving up his right to a jury trial in return for leniency.
A federal grand jury indicted Bruns Oct. 22 over allegations he defrauded Prompt Ambulance Service of Highland and InHealth of Valparaiso.
Prosecutors allege Bruns owned a medical billing firm that collected medical insurance fees for Prompt and InHealth’s between October 2017 to February 2020.
Bruns admits in his plea agreement with prosecutors he diverted checks that were supposed to be mailed to Prompt and InHealth.
That mail went instead to his post office box. He cashed the checks and used the money for his personal expenses.
Bruns also admitted he committed identity theft by forging the signature of Prompt’s owner in a letter claiming he had exclusive rights to collect Prompt’s bills.
The magistrate is recommending U.S. District Court Judge Judge Philip P. Simon accept the plea deal. If so, Simon would sentencing Bruns at a later date that has yet to be scheduled.