2013-03-21 / Front Page

County Native Sentenced For Smuggling Money

Tonya (Fagley) Long served as customs inspector with U.S. Army
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

NEWS EDITOR

A Fulton County native was sentenced to prison time earlier this month for her involvement in smuggling more than $1 million out of Afghanistan inside video cassette recorders that were transported to the United States.

On March 4, Tonya (Fagley) Long, formerly of Camp Ridge Road, Harrisonville, was ordered to complete five years in prison, a published report in the Fayetteville Observer states.

The 30-year-old, who also goes by the name Tonya Long Keebaugh, served as a staff sergeant, transportation management coordinator and a customs inspector with the United States Army when the “double-billing kickback scheme” occurred between January and February 2009. She was assigned to the 189th Combat Sustainment Battalion attached to the 7th Special Forces Group and stationed in Afghanistan from January 2008 to April 2009.

Long, according to media reports, would package the money collected by an unnamed co-conspirator by placing it inside VCRs stripped of their components. The criminal acts were reportedly to have occurred during the inspection of troops’ personal property being loaded for shipment from Afghanistan to the United States.

Authorities are not clear where the money was from or whether they were stealing from their fellow soldiers, the Daily Mail reports.

The cassettes were then flown into Pope Air Force Base located near Fort Bragg where they were monitored by armed guards. Once Long arrived in America, she picked up the packages and transported them back to the apartment that she shared with her co-conspirator in Fayetteville, N.C.

Neither Long nor the other person involved declared the currency upon entry into the U.S., thereby evading strict currency reporting requirements.

“Tonya Long betrayed her team and while other soldiers were fighting for our country, she was stealing money intended to support the mission,” Thomas G. Walker, the U.S. attorney handling the case, said in a news release. “Her conduct undermined her fellow soldiers and our nation’s reputation.” Upon return to the United States, the money was hidden in a safe in an apartment the thieves shared.

Of the money stolen, nearly $500,000 was spent on gifts for Long’s family, such as an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer, a car, a vacation and plastic surgery, the Daily Mail further states. The remaining stolen money was found at Long’s apartment in a safe.

Long will have three years of supervised release following her release from prison. The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle in Elizabeth City.

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