A federal judge sentenced Mark Bruck to 111/2 years in prison for arson and fraud charges stemming from a March 1994 fire at defunct compounding company Advance Resins Corp. of Chicopee, Mass. The July 25 sentence reflects the use of arson to commit fraud, said Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Kinder. The judge said that the case was not just a fraud case, because it involved arson, ``a crime of violence,'' Kinder said in a telephone interview from Springfield, Mass.
A jury last December found Bruck guilty of seven charges of arson, fraud and other federal offenses. His sentencing, scheduled for last March, was delayed because officials needed to gather information on Bruck's mental and emotional health for a pre-sentencing report, said Kinder. The Bureau of Prisons has not decided yet where he will serve his sentence, but it might begin in Butner, N.C., which has medical resources that can evaluate him.
Bruck received 61/2 years for arson and wire and bank fraud and five years for using arson to commit wire fraud against Advance Resins' insurance company, MassWest Insurance Co.
The sentence reflects federal guidelines for cases where arson is involved. Prior to Senior Judge Frank H. Freedman passing the sentence, Bruck admitted guilt to only a portion of the bank fraud. Bruck claimed the jury was manipulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Kinder said prosecutors developed a ``compelling circumstantial case'' against Bruck by delving through financial records. Several employees then testified against Bruck, which put the case ``over the edge.''
Evidence at Bruck's trial indicated he set fire to a warehouse containing used equipment and plastic inventory. He increased the firm's property insurance coverage a week before the fire and instructed employees to inflate the value of goods destroyed in the fire. He also inflated sales figures from 1986-1994 to get Bank of New England loans for which the firm did not qualify.
Advance Resins and sister firm Westover Color & Chemical Corp. filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in 1994 and the firms' assets were auctioned about a year ago.