- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 15, 2003

The owner of a bomb-detection dog business in Virginia has been charged with fraud after federal authorities said his dogs and their handlers failed to detect more than 100 pounds of explosives hidden during a field test.
Russell L. Ebersole, 43, of Hagerstown, Md., was charged with 26 counts of wire fraud and two counts of submitting false claims to the federal government. He was arraigned yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
If convicted, he could face five years in prison and fines totaling $1.4 million.
Mr. Ebersole, owner of a Stephenson, Va., bomb-detection business known as Detector Dogs Against Drugs and Explosives, was named on a 28-count criminal indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said.
Mr. Ebersole was unavailable for comment, and there was no answer at his office.
The indictment said that shortly after the September 11 attacks and continuing into May 2002, Mr. Ebersole marketed the services of his bomb-detection dogs and handlers to the State Department and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in the District, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster field office in New York City, and the Internal Revenue Service office in Fresno, Calif.
Mr. McNulty said Mr. Ebersole offered to have his bomb-detection teams patrol the perimeters of those federal agencies to protect employees.
The indictment says Mr. Ebersole made false statements about his company, its training procedures and the qualifications of its dogs and handlers in proposals he submitted to get business from those agencies.
Mr. Ebersole submitted false certifications of performance proficiency regarding the explosives ordnance-detection dogs and handlers to the State Department, the Federal Reserve and the IRS, the indictment says.
It also says Mr. Ebersole's dogs failed explosives-detection tests administered on five different occasions, including one instance in which the dogs and handlers failed to detect 50 pounds of TNT, 50 pounds of Trenchrite 5 dynamite and 15 pounds of C4 hidden in three vehicles at the Federal Reserve parking facility.
In addition, the indictment says Mr. Ebersole submitted a false $11,000 bill to FEMA for a September 2001 overnight trip to New York City by a company subcontractor and two bomb dogs. According to the indictment, the federal agencies paid the company more than $700,000 for its services.

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