News and Press Releases

“Music Wood” Trees Felled, Cut and Sold Using Falsified Permit

April 16, 2010

JOHN MARK RANDALL, 50, of Quilcene, Washington was convicted late yesterday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma of Conspiracy to Damage and Steal Government Property, Damaging Government Property; and Theft of Government Property for the theft of maple trees from the Olympic National Forest. The jury deliberated about five hours following a two day jury trial. RANDALL is scheduled for sentencing on July 9, 2010.

According to testimony at trial and records filed in the case, RANDALL trained some young associates in how to recognize and harvest high value maple wood for use in musical instruments. In 2008 the U.S. Forest Service learned that three young men, Travis M. Reeves, Justin J. Reeves (the Reeves brothers) and Andrew J. Post had illegally harvested two maple trees in the Hood Canal Ranger District of the Olympic National Forest in an area known as Penny Creek. The investigation revealed that RANDALL fraudulently allowed the three young men to use his Washington State Specialized Forest Products Harvesting Permit to sell some of the illegally harvested maple to a local sawmill. RANDALL knowingly served as a middle man for selling illegally-harvested maple. RANDALL went to the site where one of the trees had been felled and marked it with chalk to show his associates how it should be cut for the greatest value.

When a sawmill worker discovered that the wood had been harvested on National Forest and not on private land as stated in the permit, he alerted law enforcement. RANDALL attempted to hide his involvement by having all the maple blocks the group had harvested removed from his property. The wood was burned at another location.

“I am obviously very pleased with the jury's guilty verdict. This is a message to others who believe they can steal the public's resources and get away with it,” said US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Lyons. “Theft of high dollar value timber continues to be a problem on the Olympic National Forest. We welcome any tips the public can provide to solve these crimes.”

When sentenced RANDALL faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy, and up to 10 years in prison for the counts of damaging government property and theft of government property. All counts of conviction carry a $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorneys Jared Bingham and Johanna Vanderlee. Mr. Bingham is an attorney with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service specially designated to handle cases in federal court. Ms. Vanderlee is an attorney with the Social Security Administration specially designated to handle cases in federal court.

For additional information, or copies of evidence photos of the maple trees please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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