Way Quoe Long #00047111
Offense: Conspiracy to manufacture marijuana; continuing criminal enterprise (CCE); using or carrying a firearm during or related to a drug trafficking crime
Sentence: 50 years; 5 years supervised release
Incarcerated Since: May 18, 1998
Priors: 1989 Driving Under the Influence
Forfeitures: 40 acres land, 1 vehicle, plus the missing $75,000
Family: Twin sons
Way Quoe Long holds the distinction of receiving one of the harshest sentences for marijuana ever handed down by California’s ninth circuit. No actual evidence was ever presented against Long in any part of the trial, only the testimony of alleged co-conspirators who were trying to avoid prison time themselves. The case, like those of many marijuana lifers, contains many irregularities. The government says he was a major kingpin. He says he was framed.
Government agents claimed to have been investigating Long for 2 years prior to his arrest, yet they presented no evidence whatsoever of said investigations. At the time of trial, Way Long told his attorney that the government’s case against him was manufactured after the fact, but the attorney chose to not do any pretrial investigation into Long’s claims, nor allow him to take the stand on his own behalf.
Long was first indicted in June, 1996, about a month after his arrest for allegedly running a large marijuana grow operation. He has reason to believe a plea deal, which was never conveyed to him, was offered. Then in early 1997 his original indictment was superseded by another that also included weapons charges.
Way Long took it to trial as he believed in his actual innocence, something he maintains to this day. Even after his conviction and after receiving a 50 year sentence, he still rejected a time served plea deal. When I asked him why he would do such a thing he said:
“The reason I rejected the time served plea after my 50 years sentence was, I actually believed in the judicial system back then. I don’t believe in admitting to something I did not do or using someone else as a scapegoat. There are plenty of people that pled to crimes they did not commit because they fear the government and lied for them. All my life I have tried to do the right thing according to my beliefs. One person that struck a chord in me is the late Nelson Mandela, who believed in the system of justice and his actual innocence.”
No gun was ever used or brandished or even carried by Way Long or any of his alleged co-conspirators. Court records support the fact that the jury found him not guilty of using or carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking offense, but the judge rejected the not guilty verdict and instructed the jury that if they found Long guilty of conspiracy, then they also must find him guilty of the weapons charges.
The government did not present any evidence to support the firearms charges, other than the testimony of alleged co-conspirators. The prosecution’s argument was Long’s pager number was found on a receipt for a Knight-Stoner rifle from the Uni-Tech Supply Company. This receipt in turn was found at the marijuana farm that tied him to the conspiracy and firearm charges.
Out of the 3 co-conspirators who were scheduled to testify against him, Long claims to have only been acquainted with one. He says the first witness, who he did not know, had testimony so outrageous the jury could not convict. The second witness contradicted much of the first witness’s testimony, and the third scheduled witness was never even actually called to testify.
Uni-Tech’s proprietor claimed to have written Long’s pager number on the Knight-Stoner rifle sale receipt when Long ordered the rifle, despite the fact that, according to the sales receipt date, Long’s pager number was not yet activated and Long says the number and was written on the receipt after the fact in order to frame him. He says his pager contract supported this fact. Uni-Tech’s proprietor also claimed Long order other rifles from him, the problem with this claim is that Uni-Tech did not even exist on the date its proprietor claimed Long placed the orders.
Long says he never ordered any rifles from Uni-Tech. Nor has he ever admitted to any of the charges against him.
During Way Long’s direct appeal, the government conceded that no firearms were actually used in the crime, yet the appeals court upheld the sentencing, punishment at odds with the jury finding that he did not personally use or carry any firearm.
Way Long said pretty much every time an Asian got arrested in the Fresno area at the time, the police tried to paint the picture that the accused was an employee of his. He said that implicating him became a “get out of jail free card” for many people in trouble. He further points out none of these people ever had a name, just a vague description of a longhaired Asian man.
All of this resulted in lots of rumors within the Asian community. The stories painted Way Long as a big time pot smuggler. He says that every time the story got repeated it became bigger and more grandiose, like a warped game of telephone. Way Long became such a legend that over the years he has found himself incarcerated with others, from time to time, who have told some these outlandish tales to him, without realizing they were talking to the subject of the story they were telling. Some who were telling the tales even claimed to have known him. He tries to ignore the absurdity of it all.
Way Long has continued to better himself while being in prison, completing over 14 educational classes and programs. He continues to play and write music, something that was always his passion. If he is granted clemency, Long has plans to open a small manufacturing business with his brother, who has supported him throughout his incarceration.
In the meantime, Presidential clemency remains his only chance at getting out of prison before he is a very old man.