Staff Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Bulk Cash Smuggling
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 24, 2012|
RALEIGH—United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today Tonya Long, 29, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, pled guilty before United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle to bulk cash smuggling and aiding and abetting the same, in violation of Title 31, United States Code, Section 5332(a), and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.
U.S. Attorney Walker stated, “Tonya Long violated the public trust and her official duties as a customs inspector when she helped another individual smuggle currency out of a war zone. Her conduct undermines our international mission and our reputation as a nation overseas.”
According to the criminal information filed on September 21, 2012, and information presented in open court, Long was a staff sergeant (E-6) in the United States Army assigned to a 189th Combat Sustainment Battalion (XVIII Airborne Corps) attached to the 7th Special Forces Group for a wartime deployment to Afghanistan. From January 12, 2008 through April 5, 2009, Long was deployed to Afghanistan under the command of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, of which the 7th Special Forces Group was a part. During her deployment to Afghanistan, Long performed duties as a Customs Inspector by inspecting personal property of military service members prior to such property being loaded into containers for shipment back to the United States.
Between January 2009 and February 7, 2009, Long aided and abetted another military service member in concealing over $1,000,000 in VCRs, which were then shipped back to the United States in connex shipping containers. Neither Long nor the other person declared the currency upon entry into the United States. Long acted with the intent to evade the currency reporting requirements.
Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, Southeast Field Office commented, “It is disheartening when a military member abandons her code of conduct and violates a position of trust for personal enrichment. The DCIS will continue to aggressively investigate these offenses to protect the integrity of the Department of Defense, especially those service members who are serving honorably and selflessly in Southwest Asia.”
“Tonya Long dishonored her country and betrayed other service members by using her military position for profit. Her guilty plea today reassures the public these types of crimes won’t go unpunished,” said Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the FBI.
The criminal investigation of this case was conducted by United States Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the United States Department of Army-Criminal Investigation Command, Major Procurement Fraud Unit; the Special Inspector General-Afghanistan Reconstruction; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan is handling the prosecution on behalf of the Eastern District of North Carolina.