Trespassing, larceny, and malicious destruction; Michigan harvester pleads guilty after $100K in timber theft

(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

A northern Michigan man has pleaded guilty after stealing more than $100,000 in timber from the state after he cut down wood he wasn't allowed to. 

Raymond Vetort, who owns R&J Logging, had entered a contract with the state of Michigan to cut down wood on state land. But according to charges from the attorney general's office, he allegedly marked and took timber that wasn't permitted by the contract.

Vetort was bound over for trial in July after he was charged with trespassing, larceny, and malicious destruction; counts that add up to $45,000 in fines.

The charges included: 

  • one count of trespassing or damages to state land – $20,000 or more, a 10-year felony and/or $15,000 fine; 
  • one count of larceny, a 10-year felony and/or 15,000 fine; and  
  • one count of malicious destruction – trees, shrubs, crops, grass, turf, soil - $20,000 or more, a 10-year felony and or $15,000 fine.  

On Thursday, the timber harvester pleaded guilty in Menominee County Circuity Court to trespassing or damages on state land of $20,000 or more. He'll have to pay $50,000 in restitution to the state before he's sentenced on Dec. 10.

As part of the plea agreement, he can no longer bid on DNR logging contracts.

"Limited logging contracts strike an important balance between resource preservation and economic development," Nessel said. "The deliberate use of these contracts to obtain access to steal State timber is a serious criminal offense and will not be tolerated."