From Enterprise Staff
Three suspects were indicted by a Liberty County grand jury Dec. 15 on the charge of engaging in organized criminal activity, a second-degree felony. Anthony Major, Willie Johnson and Roderick Parks are accused of conspiring together to steal $102,776.76 of timber revenue through their employer, Alvin Laird Logging of Livingston.
Timber theft can take a variety of forms—from harvesting timber without the landowner’s knowledge or consent, to entering into a formal agreement and not paying them the full purchase price and even stealing timber from logging companies.
In October 2019, the Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department was contacted by a harvesting contractor after suspecting one of his employees of stealing timber from his logging jobs. After an investigation was conducted, supporting evidence was found that the defendants, all truck drivers for Alvin Laird Logging, were selling timber, harvested from the Laird’s logging sites, to a Corrigan mill under a third-party contract, then obtaining the revenues in cash without the consent of Laird or the landowners.
Major and Johnson were arrested under warrant on Nov. 8, 2021 and Parks on Nov. 18, 2021. The case was turned in to Liberty County District Attorney Jennifer Bergman who brought the case before a grand jury. After hearing testimonies, the grand jury decided that there was probable cause for the three to be charged with a felony of the second degree.
“Without the cooperation and high integrity of Alvin Laird, we would not have a case,” Josh Mizrany, an investigator with Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department, said. “I have heard of cases like this in the timber industry, where the employer just fires the employee and doesn’t take the case to law enforcement, then the employee just goes to work for someone else to do the same thing. Alvin Laird’s actions are a main component to justice being served.”
There were numerous victims identified in the investigation as the logging contractor was a sub-contractor under another company and working for sever landowners. The three suspects could face from two to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $10,000 if convicted.
Meanwhile, Mizrany can’t stress enough the importance of involving Texas A&M Forest Service in any case of suspected timber fraud or timber theft.
“Timber theft is more common than most people realize,” Mizrany said. “If you believe fraud is occurring with your timber agreement, contact the Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department immediately as we work diligently with local officials to help bring those responsible for timber theft and other violations of the natural resource code to justice.”
If you are unfamiliar with selling timber, you are urged to contact your local Texas A&M Forest Service office. Agency field staff will assist you with securing the assistance of a professional resource manager to help select trees for harvest, estimate values and find potential buyers.
For more information, visit https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/lawenforcement/reporttimbertheft/ or to report suspected timber theft activities, call the timber theft hotline at 1-800-364-3470.