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Trainer Convicted for Faulty Bomb Dogs

June 24, 2003

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) _ A dog trainer was convicted Friday of contracting defective bomb-sniffing dogs to the federal government.

Russell Lee Ebersole, 43, of Hagerstown, Md., is the owner of a Virginia business that trains dogs to detect drugs and explosives. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he charged various government agencies more than $700,000 for the use of his dogs.

The government said Ebersole’s dogs failed in at least four tests to alert government handlers to the scent of explosives. The indictment against Ebersole alleged that in one test, his dogs and handlers were unable to detect 50 pounds of dynamite and 15 pounds of plastic explosives hidden in vehicles.

A federal jury found him guilty of 27 counts of defrauding federal agencies.

After the verdict, a federal judge revoked Ebersole’s bond. Prosecutors argued that he may pose a threat to people who testified against him, or obstruct cases pending in other courts.

Ebersole is facing a perjury trial in Richmond on July 14, and another trial in federal court in Charlottesville. He’s charged with shipping explosives through air freight, tampering with witnesses, lying to federal authorities and wire fraud.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas McQuillan said Ebersole could be sentenced to up to eight years in federal prison.

Spencer Ault, Ebersole’s lawyer, said he will ask that the verdict be overturned.

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