COLLEGE STATION, Texas: A grand jury indicted three suspects in Liberty County on the charge of Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, a second-degree felony, on December 15, 2021. The state accused Anthony Major, Willie Johnson, and Roderick Parks of conspiring to steal $102,776.76 of timber revenue through their employer, Alvin Laird Logging.
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.
In October 2019, a harvesting contractor notified the Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department after suspecting one of his employees stole timber from his logging jobs.
Officers found supporting evidence that 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.
Officers arrested Major and Johnson under warrant on November 8, 2021, and Parks on November 18, 2021, and given to Liberty County District Attorney Jennifer Bergman, who brought the case before a grand jury. After hearing testimonies, the grand jury decided probable cause for the three and charged them with a felony of the second degree.
“Without the cooperation and high integrity of Alvin Laird, we would not have a case,” said Josh Mizrany, Investigator with Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department. “I have heard of cases like this in the timber industry, where the employer fires the employee and doesn’t take the case to law enforcement, then the employee goes to work for someone else to do the same thing. So Alvin Laird’s actions are the main component to justice served.”
Numerous victims were identified in the investigation as the logging contractor was a sub-contract under another company and working for several 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 the Texas A&M Forest Service in any case of suspected timber fraud or timber theft.
“Timber theft is more common than most people realize,” said Mizrany. “If you believe fraud is occurring with your timber agreement, contact the Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department immediately. 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, we urge you 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.