Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Southeastern Ohio Logger Gets Four Years For Stealing Over $2 Million In Timber By Gutting 700 Acres Of Dense Forest Belonging To Elderly Out-Of-Town Landowner

In Vinton County, Ohio, The Columbus Dispatch reports:
  • A southeastern Ohio logger has been sentenced to four years in prison for stealing more than $2 million in timber from land owned by an elderly Grove City resident.

    Vinton County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Simmons also ordered Mark Betts, the owner of Betts Logging, to pay $2,025,088 in restitution, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a news release.

    Betts, 53, of McArthur, was sentenced [] after he pleaded guilty last month to theft, a court spokeswoman said. Betts admitted that he cut trees from the victim's property without permission and stole the timber between April 2007 and September 2010.

    Investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Vinton County Sheriff's Office and a forestry expert found that Betts illegally harvested hundreds of acres of trees from the victim's land on Goose Creek and Dunkle Creek roads near McArthur, and then sold the timber to sawmills for more than $578,000, DeWine said.

    "This defendant gutted approximately 700 acres of dense forest by taking advantage of the fact that the landowner could not regularly visit his property due to his advanced age," DeWine said. "The victim truly cared about preserving nature, so the ravaging of his property was devastating. I am pleased that my office was able to get justice for both the victim and his family."

    The victim, Roy A. Waldron, who was in his 80s, died while the case was pending, a court spokeswoman said.

    DeWine said his office prosecuted the case as part of his Elder Justice Initiative, a program he began in 2014 to increase the investigation and prosecution of elder-abuse cases.

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