News and Press Releases

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

August 10, 2010

JOHN MARK RANDALL, 50, of Quilcene, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release and $8,808 in restitution for 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. RANDALL was convicted April 16, 2010, following a two day jury trial. At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan stated that “Randall thought he’d do something a little shady to make a buck,” but that Randall soon found out that his shady activities were federal crimes that carry serious consequences.

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.

In her sentencing memo, Special Assistant United States Attorney Johanna Vanderlee urged a significant sentence, writing to the court that RANDALL “stole old growth maples from the National Forest. He taught younger men in his community to steal, rather than hiring them and teaching them how to run a legitimate logging business. If (RANDALL’s) crimes are not treated seriously and justly punished, then old growth maples and other trees on lands of the United States will be considered fair game for thieves interested in lucrative, but illegal, cutting.”

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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