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Henry man pleads guilty in mail fraud case

A McDonough man pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud Friday, and paid more than $300,000 in restitution to the U.S. Postal Service, federal prosecutors said.

Bruce James Register, 55, was charged this month with defrauding the postal service into shipping thousands of pieces of mail for his direct marketing business, Target Marketing, Inc., without paying postage, U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said.

Prosecutors said Register had a permit that allowed him certain discounts on shipping large amounts of first-class mail, but brought mail to the post office accompanied by a postal form purporting to show payment with a fraudulently obtained postal date stamp, when no payment had been made.

In a separate instance, prosecutors said Register brought more than 37,000 pieces of mail to the post office for shipping, accompanied by forms purporting to present and pay for only 3,500 pieces.

"When criminals defraud the United States Postal Service, it drives up the cost of doing business and victimizes all patrons who ultimately bear the burden of higher prices," Nahmias said in a statement.

Register could face up to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000, Nahmias said. On Friday, Register deposited $378,695.80 with the clerk of the federal court in Atlanta as restitution to the postal service for the unpaid postage.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 16. When reached for comment Friday, Register referred questions to his attorney, Ed Garland.

Garland said Register felt he was being treated unfairly by the post office, "and made the mistake of over-reacting" when he made the shipments. Garland, citing the upcoming sentencing hearing, declined to discuss the details of the dispute.

"He is a very fine, charitable citizen of the community and regrets that these events took place," Garland said.

Garland confirmed that Register is a former member of the Henry County Planning Commission, which is now known as the Zoning Advisory Board.

- From Staff Reports