Timber Thieves Indicted for Large-Scale Theft from Government Land
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia
Two Arrested, One Remains At-Large
ROANOKE, Va. – A federal grand jury in Roanoke has indicted a trio of men on conspiracy charges, Lacey Act violations, and other charges related to the alleged illegal removal of walnut trees from federally protected land. The indictment, returned under seal May 20, 2021, was unsealed earlier this month following the arrest of two of the defendants. A third defendant remains at-large, and his identity remains under seal.
William Riley Stump, 52, of Narrows, Virginia, and Derrick Anthony Thompson, 48, of Princeton, West Virginia, were arraigned this week in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.
Stump is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit an offense to defraud the United States, five counts of violating the Lacey Act, five counts of theft of government property, five counts of removal of timber from lands of the United States, and seven counts of the illegal cutting of trees on lands of the United States. Thompson is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit an offense to defraud the United States, one count of violating the Lacey Act, one count of theft of government property, one count of removal of timber from lands of the United States, and three counts of illegal cutting of trees on lands of the United States.
“The Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute those who steal natural resources from federal lands for their personal enrichment,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “Federal protected lands not only serve as areas of conservation and flood management but also provide intrinsic beauty we all enjoy, particularly here in the Western District of Virginia.”
“It is the duty and mission of U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigation to protect our federal land resources from theft, unwarranted destruction and disturbance, and to deter and prevent crimes,” said Katie Ballew, Patrol Captain USDA Forest Service George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.
According to court documents, Stump, Thompson, and another indicted co-defendant conspired to cut and remove black walnut trees located in the Bluestone Project in Giles County, Virginia and transport them to Lindside, West Virginia to sell. The Bluestone Project is a United States Army Corps of Engineers Flood Damage Reduction program designed to inhibit flood-level water flow along both the New River and Bluestone River. The project’s federally-protected area involves 21,000 acres of land that is a fertile habitat for growth of certain trees and plants, including the highly valuable black walnut trees, which are among the largest and longest living hardwood trees in the United States.
The U.S. Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers are investigating the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Baudinet is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Updated April 19, 2023