Former U.S. postal worker pleads guilty to federal drug trafficking charges

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HARRISBURG — A former northern California postal worker will serve up to 72 months in prison after pleading guilty to her role in manufacturing and distributing 100 kilograms of marijuana and conspiring to launder the proceeds, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Ramona Long, 57, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Yvette Kane on Thursday.

Long admitted to being part of a conspiracy to traffic hundreds of pounds of marijuana between northern California and York County.

According to U.S. Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Long was part of a group that included her 33-year-old son Tyler Long, her 39-year-old son-in-law, Christopher Heath, and Ryan J. Falstone. From September 2014 to January of 2016, the group grew marijuana on Long’s 20-acre property in Oroville, CA, and shipped it through the U.S. Postal Service to several locations, including post office boxes in York and Lancaster.

Long was a deputy sheriff in Yuba County, CA, assigned to the narcotics division at the time, Brandler’s office said.

When law enforcement officers searched Ramona Long’s California property, they discovered a shop devoted exclusively to the harvesting and processing of marijuana. Inside the shop, there was a trimmer, drying racks, 74 raised planter beds and grow lights.

In Long’s residence, officers seized five firearms, various ammunition and multiple plastic bins containing marijuana that Long tried to conceal from them as they entered the home.

In December 2015, Ramona Long assisted her co-conspirators with packaging marijuana they had grown and packed it to sell on the East Coast. Heath, Falsone and Tyler Long traveled from California to York County in two vehicles, transporting 89.5 kilograms of this marijuana worth just under half a million dollars.

Heath’s truck contained the entire quantity of marijuana as well as a loaded Glock firearm and his deputy sheriff’s badge. When Heath, Falsone and Tyler Long arrived to deliver the marijuana in York County, they were arrested by the York County Drug Task Force and Penn Township Police Department.

This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, the York County Drug Task Force, Penn Township Police Department, the Butte County Sheriff’s Department (California), the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith A. Taylor and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph J. Terz are prosecuting the case.

The maximum penalty for conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to manufacture and distribute 100 kilograms and more of marijuana is 40 years imprisonment and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment. The maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit money laundering is 20 years’ imprisonment.