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Third man pleads guilty in Liberty County timber theft case

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LIBERTY — A third man has been sentenced in connection to a Liberty County timber theft investigation that began in 2019.

Roderick Wayne Parks, 49, of Point Blank, Texas, pleaded guilty in a Liberty County court last month to a second- degree felony charge of engaging in organized criminal activity. He was sentenced to 10 years of deferred adjudication and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and $ 102,776 in restitution. Deferred adjudication is a form of probation that allows someone to accept responsibility for a crime without a conviction placed on their record.

Parks was indicted in December 2021, along with Anthony Dewayne Major and Willie Johnson, both of Livingston. The three were accused of conspiring to steal timber revenue from their employer.

Major pleaded guilty to engaging in organized criminal activity in January and was sentenced to 10 years of deferred adjudication and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and $ 102,776 in restitution. Johnson pleaded guilty to a third- degree felony charge of theft of between $30,000 and $150,000 in May 2022 and was sentenced to 10 years of deferred adjudication and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

The thefts occurred over a six-month period in 2019.

Texas A&M Forest Service law enforcement investigators said evidence linked the three men, all logging truck drivers, to illegal timber sales through a third- party contract. The drivers obtained a fraudulent bill of sale to present to the sawmill and falsified entries in their delivery logbooks, said Josh Mizrany, Investigator with Texas A&M Forest Service’s Law Enforcement Department.

The logging contractor contacted investigators after becoming suspicious of the activity of one his drivers, Mizrany said, leading law enforcement to find evidence linking all three men to the theft.

“He did the right thing by contacting us and that was critical to building the case and getting justice,” Mizrany said. “ We encourage anyone that suspects illegal activity related to timber to call Texas A&M Forest Service’s Law Enforcement Department.”

Timber theft can take a variety of forms — from harvesting timber without the landowner’s knowledge or consent, to breaking a formal agreement by not paying them the full purchase price and even stealing timber 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 references of the buyer.

• Get bids for their timber.

• Mark all property lines to ensure cutting on adjacent property does not encroach on theirs.

• Utilize trail/deer cameras that can record suspicious activity or individuals.

• Always hold timber contractors to the agreed-upon terms.

Landowners who are unfamiliar with selling their timber are urged to contact their local Texas A&M Forest Service office. Texas A&M Forest Service field staff assist 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. The Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department works with local offi cials to help bring those responsible for timber theft and other violations of the natural resources code to justice