Dog-Handler Sentenced for Planting Evidence

A woman who once was recognized as one of the nation's best trainers and handlers of cadaver-sniffing dogs was sentenced Tuesday to 21 months in prison for planting bones and other fake evidence in cases she worked.

Sandra M. Anderson (search), 43, of Sanford, pleaded guilty in March to five felony charges, including obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal authorities.

She apologized in court before sentencing.

"I lost track of why I was offering my services," she said.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Patrick J. Duggan ordered Anderson to pay more than $14,500 in restitution to several law enforcement agencies.

An August 2003 indictment said Anderson faked evidence in several cases in Michigan and Ohio. She planted bones in search areas and used her body fluids to stain a saw blade, coins and a piece of cloth, it said.

Anderson and her dog Eagle, a Doberman-German shorthair pointer mix, were invited to Panama and Bosnia to look for victims of political repression, and to ground zero in New York after Sept. 11.

They also were featured on TV's "Unsolved Mysteries" after helping convict a Michigan biochemist of murdering and dismembering his wife in 1999. Azizul Islam (search) recently was granted a new trial after he appealed his conviction, citing Anderson's conduct.

Much of the evidence against Anderson stemmed from her participation in the more than 20-year-old case of a missing woman, Cherita Thomas (search), believed to have been murdered in a racially motivated attack in northern Michigan.

Under a deal with prosecutors, five counts against her were dropped.