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Timber Fraud Arrest

Michael Bennett arrested in a timber theft investigation.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M Forest Service law enforcement investigators arrested James Michael “Mike” Bennett of Cleveland, Texas, for Timber Purchase as a Trustee with Intent to Defraud on Feb. 13, 2020, in Montgomery County. Bennett, 55, was charged with a state jail felony as they valued the timber between $500 and $20,000.

“Timber theft is more common than most people realize, and most cases begin with an agreed-upon contract. Victims deserve to be made whole, and as a department, we seek justice for these individuals,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Investigator David Colton.

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 for the buyer.
  • For the best price, insist on getting bids for their timber.
  • Mark all property lines to assure cutting on the adjacent property does not infringe on theirs.
  • Utilize trail/deer cameras on their property that can record suspicious activity or individuals.
  • Always hold their timber contractor to the agreed-upon terms.

Contact your local Texas A&M Forest Service office is you are a landowner who is unfamiliar with selling timber. Agency 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.

To report suspected timber theft or suspicious activity, call the Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement timber theft hotline at 1-800-364-3470.

Visit https://tfsweb.tamu.edu/lawenforcement/reporttimbertheft/ for more information.

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 resource code to justice.