Mastermind of BAE tuition fraud scheme sentenced

The former BAE Systems employee who admitted to creating a tuition reimbursement scheme that defrauded the defense company of nearly $1 million, has been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne and must pay back over $500,000.

Robin C. Opper, 36, of Fort Wayne was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Holly Brady after pleading guilty to wire fraud, according to an Aug. 13 statement from United States Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II’s office.

Opper was sentenced to 1 year in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $566,618.50 in restitution.

“This is one of the last defendants to be sentenced in a massive fraud scheme involving federal charges against 31 former BAE employees arising out of false submissions for reimbursement from the employer’s tuition assistance program,” according to Kirsch in the statement. “All 31 defendants have been convicted of various charges of wire fraud and ordered to pay restitution to BAE for its loss, which, as a result of the scheme, totaled $806,241.09. We, along with our law enforcement partners, take financial fraud seriously and will take measures to obtain restitution for the victim of these offenses.”

“This sentence sends a clear message that the FBI will aggressively pursue those who commit financial fraud and vigorously investigate this criminal activity,” said Grant Mendenhall, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division, according to the statement. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to use all the resources at our disposal to ensure those who believe they can profit from defrauding others face the full consequences of their actions.”

According to documents in the case the following occurred:

Between June 13, 2013, and April 25, 2016, while employed at BAE Systems in Fort Wayne, Opper devised a scheme to defraud his employer. The scheme was used to obtain fraudulent reimbursement payment from BAE’s tuition assistance program.

Opper perpetrated the scheme by submitting false documentation regarding college course enrollment to obtain reimbursement for tuition payments for courses he was neither registered for nor completed.

In addition, Opper recruited other employees to participate in the scheme and provided them with fraudulent documentation so that they too could receive payments to which they were not entitled. Opper required those employees whom he recruited to pay him a fee for his assistance.

Opper received $37,500 from BAE for fraudulent tuition reimbursements for himself and BAE paid $529,118.50 to other employees that Opper recruited into the fraud scheme.

This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Stacey R. Speith.

Middlebury’s Cardinal Bus gets safety award

Cardinal Bus headquartered in Middlebury, has been recognized by TRAX Insurance, Ltd. for its outstanding safety record. TRAX, founded in 1996, relies on risk control as the foundation to establish business insurance as a profit center rather than just an overhead expense. TRAX provides insurance protection for non-related shareholders bonding them together to create true sharing of risk, according to a statement from Cardinal.

In July, Cardinal Bus received the award from TRAX for achieving 10 consecutive years of no risk sharing. Cardinal previously had its own safety program, which resulted in Cardinal not sharing risk with its fellow members within the TRAX program.

Cardinal was started in 1923 when Branston Shoup bought Middlebury Bus Lines. Branston’s son John took over the business in 1954, followed by his sons, Matt and Dan Shoup.

LaGrange County 911 gets grant

LaGrange County 911 is among 29 Public Safety Answering Points across Indiana to receive a portion of a $2.8M federal grant to enhance their 911 equipment.

LaGrange will receive $141,890 for CAD improvements, Catherine Seat, director of external affairs and communications at the treasurer's office.

"CAD is a computer-based system, which aids PSAP Telecommunicators by automating selected dispatching and record keeping activities," according to Seat.

The 911 Grant Program, provided by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is to provide federal money to support the transition of these groups and their interconnecting 911 network and core services, to facilitate migration to a digital, IP-enabled emergency network, and the adoption and operation of NG911 services and applications, according to a statement from the state treasurer’s office.

The groups will be required to pay 40% of their project cost while the other 60% is covered by the grant funding.

—From staff reports

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