The second of three men indicted in a timber theft investigation in Liberty County was convicted of engaging in organized criminal activity this month.
Anthony Dewayne Major, 43, of Livingston, pleaded guilty to the second-degree felony charge and was sentenced to 10 years of deferred adjudication and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and $102,776 in restitution. Deferred adjudication is a form of probation that allows Major to accept responsibility of the crime without a conviction placed on his record.
Major was indicted, along with Willie Johnson of Livingston and Roderick Parks of Point Blank, by a Liberty County grand jury in December 2021. The three were accused of conspiring to steal timber revenue from their employer.
Johnson pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of theft of between $30,000 and $150,000 in May and was sentenced to 10 years of deferred adjudication and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. The case against Parks is pending.
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 Law Enforcement Department.
The logging contractor became suspicious of his drivers’ activities and called investigators, Mizrany said.
Mizrany stressed the importance of proper documentation and even game cameras to track timber on a harvesting site in an effort to prevent theft.
“If you’re looking for a logger, make sure you know what contracts your wood is being sold under,” Mizrany said. “The wood accountability systems, the loader sheets, game cameras, constantly monitoring the wood pile and working with your local and Texas A&M Forest Service law enforcement are some of the best tools available.”
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 officials to help bring those responsible for timber theft and other violations of the natural resources code to justice.