HARRISBURG- The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced Wednesday that on October 19, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Yvette Kane sentenced Christopher Mark Heath, age 38, a former deputy sheriff of the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office, California, to 120 months’ imprisonment for possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking, conspiracy to manufacture and distribute 100 kilograms of marijuana, conspiracy to launder drug proceeds and an additional drug trafficking count. After a two-day trial, the jury convicted Heath of these offenses in Harrisburg before Judge Kane on May 11, 2017.
According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Heath engaged in a conspiracy that trafficked hundreds of pounds of marijuana between Northern California, Florida and York County, Pennsylvania. Heath and his co-defendants, who previously pleaded guilty, participated in a conspiracy that began in approximately September 2014 and continued to January 7, 2016. During this time, Heath was a deputy sheriff in Yuba County, California, assigned as a narcotics investigator but has since resigned. Heath and his co-defendants grew marijuana on property in Oroville, CA, and shipped it through the United States Postal Service to several locations, including post office boxes in York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as well as to the Hanover area.
In December 2015, Heath and his co-conspirators traveled from California to York County in two vehicles, transporting 89.5 kilograms of 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 and his co-conspirators arrived to deliver the marijuana in York County, they were arrested by the York County Drug Task Force and Penn Township Police Department.
Heath has been in the custody of the U.S. Marshals since the entry of the jury verdict. Heath recently pleaded guilty to additional firearms charges in Butte County, California.
This case was brought as part of the Violent Crime Reduction Partnership (“VCRP”), a district wide initiative to combat the spread of violent crime in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Led by the United States Attorney’s Office, the VCRP consists of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies whose mission is to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who commit violent crimes with firearms.
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 prosecuted the case.