A soldier assigned to help U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan instead used her position in logistics to smuggle $1 million – profits of a contract kickback scheme – out of Afghanistan in empty VCRs, according to the Department of Justice.
The DOJ announced last week that Staff Sgt. Tonya Long, 30, had been convicted of “bulk cash smuggling” stemming from a month-long period in Afghanistan in 2009 in which she and another person stuffed empty VCRs and other merchandise with $10,000 stacks of cash and sent the money-laden machines back to the U.S. With the cash, Long bought herself a vacation, a new car, “personal surgeries” and an 18-wheeler truck and trailer, the DOJ said.
Since Long served as a Transportation Management Coordinator, her duties included inspecting cargo headed to the states for just such illicit activity. Long was assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force, which includes the 7th Special Forces Group.
“Tonya Long betrayed her team and while other soldiers were fighting for our country, she was stealing money intended to support the mission,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker said in a DOJ release. “Her conduct undermined her fellow soldiers and our nation’s reputation.”
Long was sentenced to five years in prison, three years supervised release and was ordered to pay back the $1 million in restitution.