Hutto Ford sales manager accused of illegally dealing firearms at car dealership

Crime

HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) — The former general sales manager of Covert dealership in Hutto is facing a federal criminal charge — accused of dealing much more than SUVs off the lot.

Federal prosecutors say he was trafficking weapons.

Craig Aaron Tondre was arrested in April. He’s accused of dealing firearms without a license. Investigators also say he wasn’t at it alone.

A U.S. District Court criminal complaint filed April 6 lays out the illegal sales of several firearms through a chain of command.

According to arrest affidavits, Tondre was working with another employee at the Covert dealership who is also a convicted felon, Joseph Ellard.

KXAN obtained Ellard’s booking photo from the Florida Department of Corrections of his arrest for second degree murder in the 90s. Now, Ellard is charged with felon in possession of a firearm and a machine gun.

Through an elaborate investigation, Austin Police Department detectives and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Austin Task Force (ATF) agents discovered the sales happening at the dealership located at 1200 U.S. 79, which is south of Limmer Loop in Hutto.

According to the complaint, Ellard who used work for Tondre is accused of selling multiple firearms, including a machine gun and a tactical rifle, plus ammunition and a silencer to undercover agents at the dealership back in February.

Tondre wasn’t present during these specific deals where individual firearms were sold for thousands of dollars, but agents saw a black Ford Explorer known to belong to him both at the scene and at his home during surveillance. He was also later seen carrying an AR-style rifle out of his home and transporting it to the dealership, agents say.

On March 31, a purchase was arranged at Tondre’s home, where the man claiming to be working under Tondre met an undercover detective. The agent reported seeing about 10 firearms and a work station, which later triggered Tondre’s arrest.

Tondre was booked into the Burnet County Jail on April 8, charged with dealing firearms without a license and has since bonded out. His attorney declined to comment at the time of this report.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Covert Auto Group released a statement, saying:

“Two employees who worked for Covert Ford Hutto had their employment terminated immediately after management was informed of their arrests on allegations of selling illegal firearms. Covert Ford Hutto was not aware of any alleged illegal activity by these employees on our premises until the time of arrest. Once we learned of the arrests, they were terminated. The actions of these former employees do not reflect the values and business practices of Covert Ford Hutto. No member of management or ownership knew of any illegal activity prior to the arrests of the individuals.”

Covert Auto Group

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