Owner of Dog Training School Sentenced for Defrauding V.A. of over $1.5 Million in GI Bill Benefits | USAO-WDTX
A federal judge in San Antonio today sentenced 49-year-old Bradley Lane Croft, owner of Universal K-9, Inc., to 118 months in prison for telling the federal government over $ 1.5 million in Veterans Affairs GI Bill – Cheated performance to train service dogs and their handlers.
In addition to serving his sentence, Senior District Judge David A. Ezra ordered Croft to pay $ 1,506,758.31 in reparation and be released under custody for a period of three years after his sentence ended.
“Today’s sentence shows what can happen to you if you decide to rip off one of the most important benefit programs that we have for our veterans. I would like to thank the prosecutors and our law enforcement partners who have worked so hard to ensure justice is done, “said US Attorney Ashley C. Hoff.
Following a bank trial in November 2019, Judge Ezra Croft found eight wire fraud cases, four cases of serious identity theft, two cases of money laundering and two cases of false tax returns. Testimony during the trial indicated that Croft made false statements in applications to the Texas Veterans Commission as of 2015, including names of instructors, certifications, and training materials, in order to receive payments for GI Bill educational services. Croft and others asked veterans as undergraduates who said they could use their GI Bill benefits to pay for dog handler courses, which cost between $ 6,500.00 and $ 12,000.00. During the program, Universal K-9 filed approximately 185 fraudulent claims related to the training of approximately 132 veterans, valued at over $ 1.5 million.
“The FBI is committed to working with our partners to protect important federal programs such as the GI Act, which is designed to improve the lives of men and women who sacrifice so much to serve our nation,” the officer said FBI Special Agent Christopher Combs, San Antonio Department. “Thanks to the hard work of the IRS CI, VA-OIG, the US Attorney General, and the lead FBI investigator, a task force officer for the Texas Department of Public Safety, Croft’s fraud scheme and betrayal of veterans is over.”
Testimony in court also indicated that Croft filed fraudulent income tax returns showing that his income for 2016 was $ 2,000 and his reported income for 2017 was $ 2,000.
“The fraud of programs like the GI Act is particularly troubling and a slap in the face to all men and women in the US military who rely on these programs to improve their futures. Today’s severe conviction of Bradley Lane Croft, owner of Universal K-9, Inc., shows once again how harmful “economic fraud” can be, ”said Rick Goss, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS CI). from the Houston branch. “IRS CI is proud to have worked with our FBI and VA-OIG colleagues to investigate and eventually eliminate Mr. Croft’s illegal system of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering and false federal income tax filing.”
Judge Ezra also ordered Croft forfeit: his business property in San Antonio; approximately $ 239,825.73 confiscated from his bank accounts; approximately $ 4,372 confiscated on-site at Universal K-9; a 2017 American Eagle 45T RV (valued at over $ 450,000); a 2018 Ford F-150 King Ranch Lariat; a 2017 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie; a 2016 Yamaha Superjet ski; a 2008 Yamaha Waverunner jet ski; and a 2012 Rocket International trailer. Judge Ezra also upheld the government’s motion for a $ 1.3 million monetary judgment.
“The Post-911 GI Bill program provides important educational and employment benefits to veterans who have served their country. This sentence sends a strong message that anyone cheating on this program or seasoned students will be held accountable in court, ”said Jeffrey Breen, South Central, of the US Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG). Branch office. “VA-OIG thanks the US Attorney General, the FBI and the IRS CI for working together on this important case to achieve justice.”
On August 8, 2018, federal authorities issued a search warrant in Croft’s San Antonio store. A total of 26 dogs from the store were placed in the care of the city’s animal care service.
Croft has been in federal detention since the verdict.
The FBI, VA-OIG and IRS CI are investigating this case. US assistant attorneys Gregory J. Surovic and Fidel Esparza III are prosecuting this case.