Tough Love, Tougher Death

The operator of a boot camp for troubled teenagers where a 14-year-old boy died Sunday has a long history of violence, deception and shady financial dealings that sparked a state Attorney General's Office investigation in the mid-1990s.

Charles "Chuck" Long has left a trail of angry investors who claim they are owed thousands of dollars, and horrified former associates disgusted over his mistreatment of horses used in a Buffalo Soliders group he founded, former associates tell New Times.

The Phoenix-based America's Buffalo Soldier Re-Enactors Association represents the all-black military cavalry and infantry units that helped settle the West. The group appears in movies and runs a "tough love" boot camp for troubled children in the desert southwest of Buckeye.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio shut down the camp Monday, calling the conditions "horrific," after camper Tony Haynes apparently died from heat exhaustion. An autopsy was expected to be completed late Tuesday.

Ginny Bowen, a former business associate, says Long owes her more than $50,000 for a film production called "Cry Vengeance" that Long was promoting several years ago.

"He walked away from me clean," she said Tuesday. "I'm not the only person he owes money to. He owes a lot of people a lot of money." The Attorney General's office conducted an investigation into Long's film production company. No charges were filed.

Long attracted the attention of New Times in 1996 when he called to complain that the committee organizing the Super Bowl reneged on a promise to have his group display the American flag prior to the kickoff of the game held at Sun Devil Stadium. The NFL said there was no agreement.

New Times reviewed public records and Long's own résumé and found a pattern of deception, financial irresponsibility and violence ("Soldier of Misfortune," January 25, 1996).

Long lied on a 1992 application to receive an appointment to the state Motion Picture and Television Advisory Board, stating he had never been charged with a criminal misdemeanor.

Four weeks before he signed the film application, Long had been charged with "inflicting injury" to his former girlfriend, the mother of his son. Long was convicted, fined $250 and placed on one year's probation.

The conviction came on the heels of several other police calls involving Long. In April 1989, Phoenix police arrested Long after he used a sledgehammer to break down the door of the house where his girlfriend was staying. No charges were filed.

Long's résumé states he had earned a political science degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio. Records show he attended for only two semesters.