A former Army Staff Sgt. at Fort Bragg was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for smuggling over $1 million out of Afghanistan, according to a report from the Fayetteville Observer.
Along with an unnamed co-conspirator serving in Afghanistan from January 2008 to April 2009, Sgt. Tonya Long, a customs inspector, took the money in a double-billing kickback scheme. In the course of inspecting personal property being loaded for shipment back to the United States, her co-conspirator would collect the money, and Long would place it in VCRs stripped of their components.
Authorities are not clear where the money was from or whether they were stealing from their fellow soldiers, the Daily Mail reports.
"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.
According to the Daily Mail, Long -- also known as Tonya Long Keebaugh -- spent nearly $500,000 on gifts for her family, which included an 18-wheeled tractor-trailer, a car, a vacation and plastic surgery. Court records suggest that someone else is facing charges, but those records are sealed.
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