St. John dog trainer’s civil suit dismissed |

HAMMOND — A federal judge dismisses a dog owner’s civil rights lawsuit following his arrest for animal cruelty.

State prosecutors charged Larry Brodanex, 41, of Chicago Heights, with cruelty to dogs he trained in St. John’s five years ago, but later dropped charges over a judge’s decision that the investigation of Brodanex violated his right to a fair trial in criminal court. .

Brodanex then sued the City of St. John, claiming its overzealous investigation had caused it mental anguish.

Tyler Brock, Mounted Shotgun/DNR Conservation Officer

U.S. District Court Judge Theresa L. Springmann ruled Thursday that police saw enough evidence of animal abuse to warrant their investigation and confiscation of the dogs from Brodanex’s training facility.

Brodanex first leased commercial property in the 9600 block of Industrial Drive in St. John in August 2017 to train dogs for security and personal protection.

Shortly after, another dog training company in the same industrial park complained to the St. John animal control officer that Brodanex was training dogs off leash and shooting blank pistols near the dogs.

Brodanex defense attorney Matthew Fech said in court documents that the blank shots were used to train dogs to perform over loud noise, much like hunting dogs are trained.

The lawsuit alleged that the animal control officer visited Brodanex’s business on September 11, 2017, and became concerned about a strong smell of dog poo.

The animal control officer and St. John police entered the Brodanex training business that night without a search warrant and removed dogs.

They raided the facility again on September 13, 2017, and September 19, 2017, removing a total of 34 dogs that authorities said were either malnourished or injured through neglect.

The Lake County prosecutor then charged Brodanex with nine felony counts and 34 misdemeanor animal cruelty charges.

Fech successfully argued in Lake Criminal Court at Crown Point that St. John police should not have entered the Broadanex training facility the first time – on September 11, 2017 – without first obtaining permission from Brodanex, which expected privacy.

A state judge ruled that the September 11, 2017 raid was an improper, warrantless search and also suppressed all evidence collected by police in two subsequent raids. This forced prosecutors to drop the charges against Brodanex.

Fech recently argued in federal court that there was a rush to judgment because people mistakenly believed he was involved in dogfighting and that the city of St. John should be held accountable.

Springmann ruled Thursday that the warrantless search of September 11, 2017 may have sunk the criminal cases, but a different legal standard applies in Brodanex’s civil suit against city officials.

Springmann said the subsequent police raids on September 13, 2017 and September 19, 2017 were “easily valid” and reasonable searches based on the evidence they had seen.

Thus, Springmann granted summary judgment against Brodanex and in favor of St. John.

Fech said Thursday he was reviewing the new ruling for possible appeal to the Chicago Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

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