Must forfeit $1.3 million for scamming feds & veterans
SAN ANTONIO, Texas––Bradley Lane Croft, 48, whom the pit bull advocacy organization Animal Farm Foundation funded from 2013 to 2017 to prepare pit bulls for police work, was on December 18, 2019 ordered to forfeit more than $1 million in assets to the federal government, following his conviction on multiple fraud charges.
Senior U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra on November 6, 2019 convicted Croft of eight counts of wire fraud, four counts of aggravated identity theft, two counts of money laundering and two counts of making a false tax return.
Looking at up to 42 years in prison, too
Croft, who is in federal custody, is to face Judge Ezra for sentencing on February 24, 2020. Croft could be ordered to serve up to 20 years in prison for the wire fraud convictions, up to 20 years in prison for money laundering, and up to two years in prison for aggravated identity theft, for a possible maximum of 42 years.
The sentences are, however, more likely to be made concurrent than consecutive.
Trial testimony, summarized the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Western District of Texas, “revealed that beginning in 2013,” Croft and his personally owned company Universal K-9 “provided false information in applications to the Texas Veterans Commission, including instructors’ names, certifications and training documents indicating that certain individuals would be instructors at the school, to receive GI Bill educational benefit payments.
Scammed in the name of a dead soldier
According to the indictment, issued in August 2018, Croft claimed four people would be working for Universal K-9 who had no association with the company, including one U.S. military veteran who died in 2011.
“Croft and others solicited veterans as students,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a written release, “indicating that they could use their GI Bill benefits to pay for a dog handler’s course that cost from $6,500 for the K-9 Handler dual-purpose detection program to $12,000 for the K-9 trainer/instructor program.
“Since 2016,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office statement continued, “Universal K-9 filed approximately 185 claims relating to the education of approximately 132 veterans and totaling over $1.26 million.
Reported income of just $2,000/year
“Testimony also revealed that Croft submitted fraudulent income tax returns,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, claiming income of just $2,000 in both 2016 and 2017.
Judge Ezra ordered Croft forfeit to the government assets including the Universal K-9 business property; $142,716 in cash; a motor home; two pickup trucks; two jet skis; and a trailer.
“Judge Ezra also granted the government’s motion for a money judgment in the amount of $1.3 million,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Pit bulls-for-police project made perp famous
Croft listed on LinkedIn more than 30 media profiles and appearances, mostly in connection with the Animal Farm Foundation-funded pit bull training program.
Among the media spotlighting the pit bull training program, called “Sector K9,” were ABC television, Animal Planet, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, Huffington Post, The Independent, NBC, People Magazine, and USA Today.
After Croft was indicted, however, a page describing the “Sector K9” program disappeared from the Animal Farm Foundation web site.
Stacey Coleman, the $142,000-a-year Animal Farm Foundation executive director, told San Antonio Express News reporter Guillermo Contreras that the pit bull advocacy organization for several years sent pit bulls to Universal K-9 to be trained for police work, sponsored care for the dogs at the Universal K-9 training center, “and paid for two weeks of training for handlers and their expenses while staying in San Antonio,” Contreras said.
“Animal Farm Foundation contributed $111,750 to Universal K-9 in 2016,” Contreras added. “Coleman didn’t know offhand how much it contributed in 2017.”
“We ended our relationship with Universal K-9 in 2017,” Coleman told Contreras, due to what Coleman called “philosophical differences.”
Reported Contreras, “Universal K-9 wanted to expand the program beyond what Animal Farm Foundation was willing to fund, she said.”
Pit bulls placed with police departments
How many pit bulls were allegedly trained by Croft for police work is somewhat hazy, since various agencies are known to have furnished 26 pit bulls to the program, 29 police agencies reportedly received them, the Animal Farm Foundation claimed to have placed more than 30 with police agencies, and Croft told media that the program included more than 100.
Among the organizations whose pit bulls the Animal Farm Foundation sponsored for “detection dog” training at Universal K-9 were Austin Pets Alive, which sent six pit bulls eventually placed with police departments; Texas Star Rescue, which sent five; and Balanced Training Rescue, which sent three.
The Dallas County Animal Shelter, the Harris County Animal Shelter in Houston, and the Kirby Animal Shelter in Kirby, Texas, sent two pit bulls each.
Other shelters furnishing pit bulls to the “Sector K9” program included the Boerne Animal Shelter, the Buster Foundation, the Canyon Lake Animal Shelter Society, Chicago Animal Care & Control, the Dutchess County SPCA in upstate New York, and Metro Animal Care & Control, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Public safety agencies accepting pit bulls
Among the agencies receiving pit bulls purportedly trained by Universal K-9 as “detection dogs” were:
Alabama: Littleville Police Department;
Arizona: Mountainsburg Police Department;
Colorado: Rogers Police Department;
Georgia: Powder Springs Police Department; Toccoa Police Department;
Louisiana: Chitimacha Tribal Police Department;
Mississippi: Pike County Sheriff’s Office;
Missouri: Reed Spring Police Department; Vernon County Sheriff’s Office;
Nevada: Nye County Sheriff’s Office;
New York: Clay County Sheriff’s Department, Mount Vernon Police Department; Poughkeepsie Police Department; State Department of Corrections;
North Carolina: Clay County Sheriff’s Department;
Oklahoma: Disney Police Department; Maysville Police Department; Okmulgee County Criminal Justice Authority; Quinton Police Department; Talihina Police Department;
Texas: Bartlett Police Department, Dallas Independent School District; Ferris Independent School District; Gonzales County Sheriff’s Department; Grimes County Police Department; Groesbeck Police Department; Medina County Constables; Red Oak Police Department;
Virginia: Appalachia Police Department.