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Area man charged with tampering, shipping explosives

April 08, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

A Hagerstown-area man facing charges in Virginia of supplying several federal agencies with uncertified bomb-sniffing dogs was indicted last Thursday on charges of shipping explosives through airfreight, witness tampering, wire fraud, and lying to authorities.

Russell L. Ebersole was charged in a six-count indictment handed down by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville.

Conviction on all counts would carry a maximum of 40 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines, according to a press release from the office of U.S. Attorney John L. Brownlee.

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Ebersole, 43, is the president and director of Detector Dogs Against Drugs and Explosives and is the owner of Aberdeen Acres Pet Care Center and Aberdeen Acres Canine Training Academy, all located in Stephenson, Va., near Winchester.

Ebersole previously was indicted in the Eastern District of Virginia on 28 counts of wire fraud, accusing him of marketing the services of bomb-sniffing dogs that could not detect explosives.

Conviction on those charges carry a maximum punishment of 140 years in prison and $1.4 million in fines.

A grand jury sitting in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., indicted Ebersole on March 14 on those charges, for which he will stand trial May 14.

Ebersole is awaiting trial on Virginia state perjury charges. He is set to stand trial on those charges in Richmond on April 14.

He was arrested in connection with the earlier indictments on March 14 on Garis Shop Road south of Hagerstown, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

The agencies for which Ebersole provided dogs included 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., according to the 26-count indictment.

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.

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

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

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