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‘McGruff the Crime Dog’ Gets Sniffed out by Police Dog, Now Faces 16 Years in Jail

One of the McGruff the Crime Dog’s alter egos clearly did not learn from his anti-crime presentations. John R. Morales, who played the crime-fighting pooch in the late 90’s for Texas area schools has been sentenced to 16 years in jail.

The Galveston actor was pulled over for going 50 mph in a 35 mph zone when ironically a police dog sniffed out the scent of marijuana in his car. After a search was conducted of his vehicle, police found diagrams for his pot enterprise clearly visible in his front seat as well as seeds for pot plants.

Those diagrams proved to be a treasure map for police and ATF investigators, leading them to discover 1,000 pot plants and an arsenal of weapons, including grenade launchers, sawed off shot guns, rifles and 9,000 rounds of ammunition in Morales’ home.

During his sentencing, Morales told the courts that his criminal actions were intended to help others, including an ill mother and sister, as well as friends who were out of work or fallen on hard times.

“I have admitted to my guilt and my actions, whatever they were, I never really benefited,” Morales told the courts. “I have spent most of my life trying to help other people.”

U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore, though, did not buy Morales altruistic explanation, especially given Morales prior conviction for possession of a homemade bomb and illegal silencer, which landed him in prison for 2 years.

“Everything I read about you makes you seem like a scary person — guns and bomb and hand grenades,”  Gilmore told Morales before sending him back to jail for 16 years.

After the sentencing, Morales’ attorney, Ken Fensler, said judge’s assessment of Morales was wrong. “He is not as scary as the judge thought,” Fensler said, failing to explain how a man who dresses up like a crime-fighting dog to tell  elementary school students to “take a bite out of crime” and then decides to turn his home into a bomb-making lab and arsenal, is not, in fact, scary.

Photo Credit: Eric Bartholomew

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.