United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan
Western District of Washington
Brinnon Man Indicted For Tree Theft From Olympic National Forest
Trees Taken Illegally from Hood Canal Ranger District
REID JOHNSTON, 40, of Brinnon, Washington, was indicted in U.S. District Court in connection with the theft of maple, cedar, and Douglas fir trees from the Olympic National Forest. The tree thefts allegedly occurred between October 2007 and January 2010. JOHNSTON is scheduled for arraignment in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on November 18, 2011. He is charged with two felonies: theft of government property and damage to government property. If convicted JOHNSTON faces up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine, plus restitution for the value of the trees.
The trees were cut on National Forest land in the Rocky Brook area, near Johnston’s home in Brinnon. At the time of the tree cutting, JOHNSTON’s parents owned property near where the thefts occurred. The large trees that were harvested were on National Forest property, the boundaries of which had not been altered since original land surveys in the late 1800s. In January 2010, law enforcement seized multiple large Douglas fir logs that had been illegally harvested from the area – the trunk of the harvested tree was about 8 feet in diameter. The forest service estimates this tree to have been over 300 years-old. JOHNSTON is charged in connection with the theft of that tree and others in the same area over a 27-month period. Certain of the maple trees that were stolen were cut into blocks and sold for the production of musical instruments such as cellos and guitars.
The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Forest Service, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Diggs.