Canine trainer charged

Russell Lee Ebersole, owner of Detector Dogs Against Drugs and Explosives Inc., was charged with wire fraud and submitting false

Russell Lee Ebersole, owner of Detector Dogs Against Drugs and Explosives Inc., was charged with wire fraud and submitting false

March 17, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

A Hagerstown-area man was arrested Friday and charged in a 28-count indictment after federal agencies alleged he provided them uncertified bomb-sniffing dogs days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Russell Lee Ebersole, 43, was charged with 26 counts of wire fraud and two counts of submitting false claims to the U.S. government, according to an indictment released Friday by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Ebersole was arrested Friday morning on Garis Shop Road south of Hagerstown, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

Sam Dibbley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office would not say where Ebersole was being held.

Ebersole is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Judge Leonie M. Brinkema on March 21 for an arraignment hearing.

If convicted, Ebersole could face up to five years in prison on each count and approximately $1.4 million in fines, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.


Ebersole, the owner of Detector Dogs Against Drugs and Explosives Inc. in Stephenson, Va., allegedly marketed the services of his dogs and their handlers to several federal agencies shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, according to the 30-page indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va.

Those agencies include the Department of State and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Field Office in New York City and the IRS Service Center in Fresno, Calif.

The indictment alleges that Ebersole made false statements about his business, its training procedures and the qualification of his dogs and their handlers.

The federal agencies paid Ebersole's company more than $700,000 for its services, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Ebersole's company entered contracts with the U.S. Department of State to patrol the Harry S Truman Building in Washington, D.C., the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Internal Revenue Service to patrol the IRS Fresno Service Center, according to the indictment.

The company's dogs failed explosives detection tests administered by federal officials on five different occasions, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office's statement.

This included a covert test on April 4, 2002, of the company's dogs and handlers, according to the indictment. On two different occasions, three vehicles containing 50 pounds of TNT, 50 pounds of trenchrite 5 dynamite and 15 pounds of C-4 were driven to three different driveway entrances of Federal Reserve office buildings in Washington, D.C., the indictment reads.

The dog teams failed to detect the explosives and the vehicles were allowed to enter the Federal Reserve buildings' parking areas, the indictment states.

After the tests were failed, the contracts with Ebersole's company were canceled, the indictment states.

Ebersole's attorney, Spencer Ault of Towarnicky, Young and Ault in Leesburg, Va., was not immediately available for comment Friday. Ebersole's listed home phone number in Hagerstown had been disconnected.

The two false claim charges stem from an $11,514.00 charge to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and a $49,830 charge to the State Department, the indictment said.

Dibbley said Ebersole was arrested by a task force of agents from the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Reserve System and the Department of the Treasury.

Ebersole also owns Aberdeen Acres Pet Care Center in Stephenson, Va., the indictment states.

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