Skip to main content
Press Release

West Plains Man Sentenced for Illegally Harvesting Trees in National Forest

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A West Plains, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for illegally harvesting and stealing trees from Mark Twain National Forest.

Justin Lee Massey, 40, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Roseann Ketchmark to two years and six months in federal prison without parole. The court ordered the federal sentence to be served consecutively to the unrelated state criminal convictions for which Massey is currently incarcerated. The court also ordered Massey to pay $30,000 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service and to forfeit to the government $30,000, which represents the proceeds of his theft.

On July 19, 2023, Massey pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property. Massey admitted that he illegally cut down trees in Mark Twain National Forest, in the area of HC Road 5120 in Howell County, Mo., between Dec. 15, 2020, and Jan. 20, 2021.

According to his plea agreement, Massey cut down at least 10 trees. The trees were removed from the area and taken to a local sawmill, where they were sold. Based on the value of the trees illegally harvested and stolen from Mark Twain National Forest and those trees damaged due to the illegal harvesting, the total restitution is $30,000.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Carney. It was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service.

Updated April 23, 2024