“Last week, Staff Sgt. Long stood in the dock in a federal courtroom here and read aloud from a statement she had written on notebook paper:
“I cannot express how sorry I am … I chose to betray my country and my family.” She did not ask for mercy, she told a judge, “because I don’t deserve it.”
Long, 30, had pleaded guilty to stealing at least $1 million and shipping the cash in hundred-dollar bills to the U.S. in the guts of hollowed-out VCR players.
Long’s scam is part of a pattern of fraud and theft among U.S. soldiers responsible for paying Afghans who support U.S. forces. Last year, 18 U.S. soldiers were charged with such thefts, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction. Nine U.S. contractors also were charged.
The inspection agency is now investigating 80 bribery and corruption cases.