by April Scheinoha
A Pennington County jury convicted a Thief River Falls man of nine felonies Thursday night after a six-day trial. The charges stemmed from the sale or possession of methamphetamine mixtures totalling more than 78.17 grams.
Erick Carl Longo, 40, was convicted of one count of racketeering, two counts of first degree controlled substance crime, two counts of conspiracy to commit a first degree controlled substance crime, two counts of second degree controlled substance crime, one count of fourth degree controlled substance crime and one count of fifth degree controlled substance crime. Sentencing has been set for Tuesday, Sept. 20.
Longo was acquitted of one count each of second degree controlled substance crime and conspiracy to commit a first degree controlled substance crime. Earlier, another racketeering charge, one count of second degree controlled substance crime, one count of conspiracy to commit a second degree controlled substance crime, one count of third degree controlled substance crime, and one count of fourth degree controlled substance crime were dismissed.
The charges stemmed from incidents spanning back to May 1, 2014. Eight people told investigators that Longo had a drug operation in which mules or runners were used to sell meth, according to the complaint. He would give them free meth, cigarettes or gas money to help in the operation. Some said meth would be floated to some buyers, but Longo would confiscate their property or damage it if the debt weren’t paid. One man said he gave the title of his motorcycle to Longo. After the man was unable to pay his debt for two eight-balls of meth, Longo confiscated the motorcycle.
Another man said someone owed $2,000 from a previous drug debt. He said Longo instructed him and a third man to hire people to burn down a barn belonging to the debtor’s relative. The barn later burned down, and the State Fire Marshal’s Office was unable to determine the cause of the fire.
The complaint further noted that neither Longo nor his wife, Vyetta, had a steady job. However, they were able to pay about $9,600 over five months toward a contract for deed for Ashley Castillo and her father. Vyetta Longo also paid for her husband’s bail with $10,000 in cash. After encountering Erick Longo, who had been assaulted at St. Bernard’s Catholic Cemetery, police learned he possessed $20,000 in cash. Witnesses indicated that the money came from the proceeds of meth sales. Longo also possessed a stamp that said “Longo’s Dope House Sales Auto & Loan.”
After being arrested, Longo admitted that he marked his bags of meth with a B or T. During controlled drug buys, law enforcement obtained bags marked in that manner. He also admitted that two baggies of a meth mixture found in his home belonged to him. The mixtures weighed 12.43 grams.
Longo was also convicted of possessing an eight-gram mixture containing meth. In addition, he was convicted of selling 17.74 grams of a meth mixture over a 90-day period. Most, if not all, were to a confidential informant later identified as Christopher Seglem. Seglem has since been sentenced for setting up law enforcement and individuals. However, Longo and Seglem both told law enforcement that Longo wasn’t involved in Seglem’s crimes.
Longo was also convicted of selling one or more meth mixtures totalling 10 or more grams with Christopher Marvin Leeper on Sept. 29, 2014. He was also convicted of two counts of conspiring to sell one or more meth mixtures totalling 10 or more grams with Leeper, Bobbi Jo Garfve, Heather Flickinger, Ashley Castillo, Sasha Carriere, Brandon Wasley and Vyetta Longo. One of the counts allegedly involved Jordi Lancette while the other did not.