Arrest made on Walker County warrants for timber fraud.
HUNTSVILLE, TEXAS – Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Investigators arrested Philip Eugene McKenzie, Jr., 60, of Magnolia, Texas, on two counts of Timber Purchase as a Trustee with Intent to Defraud in Montgomery County on February 24, 2022.
“Mr. McKenzie had timber harvest agreements with two Walker County landowners and failed to pay them for the timber that he harvested from their property,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Criminal Investigator Josh Mizrany.
The charges are State Jail Felonies which can lead to up to two years in jail, and fines up to $10,000.
In addition, McKenzie currently has a pending charge of an Unauthorized Timber Harvest in Montgomery County.
“With this pattern of criminal behavior, I would not be surprised if there are more Texas landowners who have fallen victim to Mr. McKenzie’s alleged fraud,” said Mizrany. “I encourage anyone who may have had a timber harvest agreement with this individual to come forward.”
Landowners who suspect timber theft or suspicious timber sale agreements should call the Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Timber Theft Hotline at 1-800-364-3470.
Timber theft can take various forms – from harvesting timber without the landowner’s knowledge or consent, entering into a formal agreement, not paying them the total purchase price, and even stealing wood from logging companies.
To prevent timber theft, landowners should:
- Visit their property frequently.
- Have someone they know and trust report any cutting on their land immediately.
- Never sign a contract without checking several references of the buyer.
- For the best price, insist on getting bids for their timber.
- Mark all property lines to assure cutting on adjacent property does not infringe on theirs.
- Utilize trail/deer cameras on their property to record suspicious activity or individuals.
- Always hold their timber contractor to the agreed-upon terms.
The Texas A&M Forest Services urges landowners unfamiliar with selling their timber to contact their local Texas A&M Forest Service office. Texas A&M Forest Service field staff assists landowners with the process of securing the services of a professional resource manager to help select trees for harvest, estimate values, and find potential buyers.
Call the Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Timber Theft Hotline to report suspected timber theft or suspicious activity at 1-800-364-3470. The Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department works diligently with local officials to help bring those responsible for timber theft and other violations of the natural resources code to justice.