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Timber arsonist convicted in Vernon Parish

February 24, 2010

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said a twelve-member jury of the 30th Judicial District Court in Vernon Parish found a 66-year-old Leesville man guilty of simple arson.
Strain said Darrell Wayne Westmoreland, 3755 Camp Baker Road, was accused of setting three fires in the Camp Baker area on Feb. 25, 2008. The fires destroyed 179 acres of timberland valued at more than $80,000.
Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Enforcement Officers Charles Earl and Jim Hilton arrested Westmoreland on Feb. 26, 2008 after a joint investigation by the LDAF, local timber company employees and the Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Westmoreland was convicted on Feb. 11, 2010 in the 30th Judicial District Court in Vernon Parish and faces up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 15.
“Timber arson is a very serious crime that could result in the loss of life as well as property,” Strain said. “I want the public to know that the LDAF will thoroughly investigate all complaints of timber arson, theft, and criminal activity relating to agriculture.”
“If you suspect you have been a victim of a forestry or agricultural crime or have information about an agricultural crime, I urge you to call the Crimestoppers hotline at 1-800-558-9741 of the LDAF Forestry office at 225-925-4500.”
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