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Vernon Parish Man Arrested for Timber Theft

NEWS

Vernon Parish Man Arrested for Timber Theft

August 15, 2022

For Immediate Release:              
August 15, 2022

Contact:
Jennifer Finley, Press Secretary – 225-922-1256
Megan Moore, Public Information Director – 225-935-2179
presssecretary@LDAF.la.gov

Vernon Parish Man Arrested for Timber Theft

BATON ROUGE – James Travis Johnson, formerly of Pitkin, LA, but relocated to Leesville, LA, was booked into the Vernon Parish Detention Center on timber theft and other timber-related charges on August 9, 2022. He posted the bond of $15,000 on August 11, 2022. Later that day, he was arrested in Rapides Parish on additional timber theft charges.

On August 9, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s Enforcement agents arrested 48-year-old James “Travis” Johnson for one count of timber theft less than $25,000 and three counts of making false statements regarding rightful ownership of forest products.

In weeks prior, LDAF Forestry Enforcement agents received a complaint from the owner of a 20-acre tract of timberland in Vernon Parish. The landowner reported that James “Travis” Johnson was hired to log this tract of land. The timber owner informed LDAF agents he believed he was not paid for all the timber harvested off his property.

Following an investigation, LDAF enforcement agents say Johnson failed to pay for loads of timber valued at $1,860.74. Johnson was booked into the Vernon Parish Jail on one count of theft of timber less than $25,000. The bond was set at $15,000, which he posted on August 11, 2022.

If convicted, Johnson could receive a fine of up to $5,000 and/or jail time up to five years for the timber theft and up to $1000 in fines and/or up to one year in jail time for the false statement.

On August 11, Johnson was arrested again for two additional counts of timber theft less than $25,000 in Rapides Parish. In the weeks leading up to the arrest, LDAF Forestry Enforcement agents received complaints from two separate landowners. The landowners both own separate four-acre tracts of timberland located in Rapides Parish. The first landowner reported that James “Travis” Johnson was hired to log his tract of land but was never paid for the timber cut and hauled off his property. From the second complaint, agents learned that Johnson cut a tract of timber without the consent of the landowner.

Johnson was booked into the Rapides Parish Jail on two counts of theft of timber less than $25,000. No bond has been set at this time.
If convicted, Johnson could receive a fine of up to $5,000 and/or jail time up to five years for each count of timber theft.

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.

“Timber theft is more common than most people realize,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “If you are unfamiliar with timber volumes, current prices, and potential bidders, reach out to the LDAF Forestry group to help you determine the worth of your timber. And most importantly, if you believe fraud is occurring with your timber agreement, contact the LDAF Forestry Enforcement group immediately as we work diligently with local officials to help bring those responsible for timber theft.”

Note: All persons accused of any crime are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

The public is urged to report any and all forestry-related crimes to the LDAF Office of Forestry at 225-925-4500 or the LDAF 24-hr hotline at 1-855-452-5323.

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