Skowhegan Man Sentenced for Timber Theft

August 28, 2006

August 27, 2009
Contact: Leanne Robbin Assistant Attorney General, Phone: (207) 626-8581

Skowhegan Man Sentenced for Timber Theft

AUGUSTA, Maine ? In a decision issued this week, a Superior Court justice sitting in Lincoln County Superior Court ordered Logger Gerald Nelson, Jr. to pay $94,558.69 in restitution to 10 victims of his timber theft upon his release from prison. Nelson has been incarcerated since August 7, 2008, when he was sentenced by Justice Andrew M. Horton to five years in prison following a trial in June, 2008, on charges of theft from woodlot owners in six counties in Maine, as well as in New Hampshire.

Justice Horton also ordered Gerald Nelson Jr., 42, of Skowhegan, to serve two years probation following his release from prison, according to an announcement by the Maine Forest Service and the Office of the Attorney General

A jury sitting in Kennebec County found Nelson guilty in June, 2008, of theft by deception from 10 private landowners and Sappi Paper Co.

He was sentenced on August 7, 2008, to five years in prison on the theft from the 10 landowners and three years in prison, all suspended, on the theft from Sappi. In addition to the charges for which he went to trial, Nelson pleaded guilty in September, 2008, to theft from an eleventh landowner with a woodlot in New Hampshire and was sentenced to a consecutive prison term of two years, all suspended, and one more year of probation.

Under the conditions of probation, he will be prohibited from working in the woods and he will be required to pay the restitution set by the court. The restitution hearing was held on August 18, 2009, and the court issued its decision this week.

?The Office of the Attorney General will continue to prosecute and seek restitution and jail time from loggers who unethically harvest timber,? Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin. ?Woodlot owners should contact the nearest Maine Forest Service forest ranger if they suspect timber is being illegally harvested from their land.?

The timber thefts committed by Nelson occurred between July, 2000, and October, 2006 from landowners with woodlots in Augusta, Fairfield, Newport, Freedom, Peru, Carmel, Sumner and Canton, as well as a town in New Hampshire.

Maine Forest Service forest rangers and foresters worked as a team with a detective from the Attorney General?s Office to identify the woodlots and track down the trip tickets and scale slips associated with each lot. Because Nelson falsified the names of the landowners and the location of the woodlots on the trip tickets, the truckers who transported the wood became material witnesses in identifying where the wood in fact came from, according to the Attorney General?s Office.

The MFS forest rangers used tax maps and landowner complaints to identify the actual landowner/victims.

The Maine Forest Service has information and resources for landowners who are considering a harvest of their woodlots. In order to avoid becoming a victim of timber theft, the Maine Forest Service recommends that landowners take the following steps: ? Keep all property lines well marked and brushed out. ? Know who the adjacent property owners are. ? Have someone keep an eye on your property if you are away for a significant period of time. ? Should you suspect someone is cutting wood on your property, call the nearest Forest Ranger. ? Never give oral permission for someone to harvest your timber. ? Always have a written contract for all timber harvesting. ? Keep all copies of scale slips and payment documents associated with each timber sale for at least one year after the timber harvest. ? Hire a licensed forester to formulate a management plan, supervise the harvest, and ensure that you are receiving fair market prices for the wood. For more information on preventing timber theft, call 1-800-750-9777 or go to: