Pubdate: Thu, 14 Jan 2016
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2016 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Monica Vaughan
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


A Yuba County sheriff's deputy and drug task force agent facing drugs 
and guns charges in criminal cases spanning two states was released 
from custody Wednesday, according to jail records.

Butte County Superior Court Judge James Reilley reduced Christopher 
"Mark" Heath's bail from $1 million to $15,000 Wednesday morning on 
the condition Heath not possess firearms or ammunition.

His attorney, Roberto Marquez, said Heath would post a bail bond with 
money earned from his job as a sheriff's deputy. The county will 
continue to issue paychecks to Heath pending the results of an 
internal administrative investigation.

Multiple investigations have been launched as a result of Heath's 
Dec. 29 arrest, including a California Department of Justice 
investigation into the bi-county narcotics task force, NET-5.

Heath was arrested with his brother-in-law, Tyler Neil Long, and 
friend Ryan Jay Falsone in York County, Pa., on suspicion of 
trafficking marijuana. Police there said they found 247 pounds of 
packaged marijuana in the men's California-licensed trucks. The pot 
had a street value of $2 million.

All three Butte County residents posted a cash bond between $50,000 
and $100,000 on a $1 million bail. Officials in Pennsylvania did not 
inquire as to the source of those funds.

Within days of learning of Heath's arrest, the Sutter County District 
Attorney's Office and Butte County Sheriff's Department launched 
investigations and served search warrants on five residences.

Heath's mother-in-law, Ramona Long, was arrested on suspicion of 
cultivation and possession of marijuana for sale, deputies said, 
after she was found with 132 pounds of processed marijuana. She is 
out of custody.

Heath and his wife, Tatum Heath, are each charged with possession of 
an assault rifle after a search of their home and winery uncovered 
modified assault rifles. Law enforcement officers are permitted to 
possess the weapons with the permission of their sheriff. Yuba County 
Sheriff Steve Durfor said no such permission was granted.

Both the Heaths pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the gun charges and 
are scheduled to return to court Jan. 27 for a preliminary hearing.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom