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Local News

June 7, 2014

Ex-Chamber chief pleads guilty

Insurance scheme led to fraud charge

Former Otsego County Chamber of Commerce President Robert “Rob” Robinson pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree scheming to defraud, a class E felony, in Otsego County Court, Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl said.

Robinson was fired from his job Nov. 2011 following charges that included insurance fraud, grand larceny and falsifying business records.

The charges came after an investigation into an alleged insurance scheme that enrolled more than 400 downstate residents in an MVP Health Care Insurance program offered by the Otsego chamber.

Robinson made the plea before Judge John Lambert. The proposed sentence includes a three-year conditional discharge and a $2,000 fine, Muehl said.

Final sentencing is scheduled for July 28 at 9:30 a.m. The proposal requires Robinson to follow the sentencing guidelines to avoid any further action. If he doesn’t follow them, he could be sentenced to up to four years in prison, Muehl said.

Robinson did not return a call for comment. His lawyer, Vincent Accardi of Binghamton, said he would wait until sentencing to comment.

Norman J. Michaels Jr., of Katonah, was convicted of charges related to the case in May. A jury found him guilty of one count of third-degree grand larceny and one count of first-degree scheming to defraud.

Katonah is to be sentenced this summer. State officials previously said he took $62,000 in commissions in the scheme that defrauded MVP.

“I’m satisfied with the outcome,” Muehl said. Robinson’s co-defendant was the “major player,” the prosecutor said.

While Robinson didn’t benefit personally, Muehl said, he took advantage of people from downstate. Muehl added that the scheme caused harm to those Otsego County residents who lost their insurance when MVP dropped coverage in the area.

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