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Texas Logger Accused of Timber Theft

June 19, 2015

Baton Rouge, LA (June 19, 2015) – A logger from Texas faces one count of felony timber theft following an investigation by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF).

On Thursday, June 18, LDAF agents arrested Ronnie Dale Clayton of Linden, Tx., and booked him into the Caddo Parish Detention Center. Clayton is accused of cutting an 80 acre tract of timber in Rodessa in Caddo Parish without first obtaining consent from 80 percent of the landowners.

Agents said Clayton, who has been in the logging business more than 20 years, assisted landowner James Nelson in securing a Texas notary, Centennial Rose Stewart, who notarized 15 falsified timber cutting agreements. Clayton then paid Nelson $35,000 for the timber. However, investigators say Clayton was present when Nelson falsely signed the names of other heirs to the property who had been deceased for up to 40 years. Agents found numerous heirs that had no knowledge the timber had been cut and also found that Nelson only owned less than one half of a one percent interest in the property.

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said, “Our agent’s work diligently on these cases to ensure all alleged criminal parties are held accountable. It is imperative that Louisiana landowners stay on top of who is responsible for cutting and removing timber from their property. Some landowners do not live in the state and can easily get scammed out of money and ultimately lose their property.”

Records showed Clayton made a lump sum payment to Nelson of $35,000 for the timber. Clayton’s bond was set at $20,000. Nelson and Stewart have also been arrested and charged in connection with this case.