Photo: William Luther, Staff Photographer / Staff Photographer
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Federal agents on Wednesday arrested a principal figure of a canine-training operation after he was indicted by a grand jury on charges related to fraud and money laundering.
Bradley Croft, 46, who has said he was a founder of Universal K9, was taken into custody days after his property was the target of a raid by agents with the FBI, and the IRSâ€™ Criminal Investigation division. The agencies would not comment Wednesday, but the Express-News verified the arrest through other sources. The indictment is not yet public but is expected to be released when Croft appears in federal court on Thursday.
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The agents served a search warrant Aug. 8 on Universal K9 at 15329 Tradesman, near Loop 1604 on the North Side, which is billed as a nonprofit. Of 31 dogs found on the site, 26 were removed by the cityâ€™s Animal Care Services.
Councilman Manny Pelaez, who represents the district there, said in an online post on Aug. 8 that â€śthe IRS and the FBI just shut down an operation that was preying on veterans and not doing right by dogs. Thatâ€™s a good thing worthy of mention and support.â€ť
San Antonio Police Department officers assisted. The Express-News confirmed that the Department of Veterans Affairs also was involved in the investigation.
â€śUniversal K9 specifically outreaches to veterans and offers a two-week K9 Handlers course or a ten-week trainers course in which any veteran may utilize his or her GI Bill to cover 100% of course costs, including the canine,â€ť Universal K9 said in a lawsuit it filed recently against former students.
It costs $12,500 for a 10-month course, according to exhibits included in the lawsuit.
Lawyers for Universal K9 filed a motion dismissing the lawsuit the day after the raid.
Universal K9 is also listed as a nonprofit foundation that donates dogs to police departments and has been featured on local and national media, including CBS News and the Express-News.
But veterans who took the course said in previous interviews that things did not appear to be on the up and up, and some alleged the government was being defrauded by the way Universal K9 handled federal funding.
Croft has a criminal history that includes violent outbursts, state District Court records show. In 1995, for example, his lawyers negotiated plea deals that left him with deferred adjudication probation for lesser charges after being charged with deadly conduct or other felonies.
In one case, he admitted shooting into the ground during an argument with his then-girlfriend. After police showed up, he challenged them and got into a fight with them, according to court records.
He also was accused of firing a gun at a moving car at a couple that he and a friend got into an argument with, the records show. Croft and the friend followed the couple on Interstate 10 when Croft fired the gun and hit the coupleâ€™s vehicle, flattening their tire.
Guillermo Contreras covers federal court and immigration news in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @gmaninfedland