JASPER COUNTY, Texas — A Jasper County man has been arrested and charged in connection with stealing thousands of dollars in timber from a landowner after an investigation by the Texas A&M Forest Service.
Officials with the Law Enforcement Department of the Texas A&M Forest Service said 49-year-old Troy Grice of Groveton, Texas has been charged with timber purchase as trustee with intent to defraud, a third-degree felony.
Officials said Grice allegedly swindled a Jasper County landowner out of $20,000 to $100,000 of timber in 2019.
Authorities said Grice entered into a contract to harvest 314 acres of timber in January 2019, using his company Apex Timber, but allegedly stopped paying the landowner four months later.
Officials with the Texas A&M Forest Service said state law requires companies to pay clients within 45 days of selling harvested timber – or face criminal charges for fraud.
Joshua Mizrany, an investigator with Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department, said timber theft and fraud hurt not only the victim – but everyone. Especially, after last month's Arctic Blast sent lumber prices soaring for consumers and builders across Texas.
"There is a victim to it and there's more victim than one," Mizrany said. "It's not just the person that doesn't receive the revenues for their timber, their asset, it's also the industry. The industry takes a hit. It gives a bad name to the industry –these types of cases."
Officials do have a word of caution for those seeking to sell timber on their lands. They said always have a bill of sale before any cutting begins, as it's the best way to protect your assets.
Officials warn to watch out for "buying contracts," schemes criminals use to appear legitimate to landowners.
Also, be sure to insist on bids for timber on your lands and know how much your resources are worth.
Officials urge Texans to call law enforcement for an illegal trespassing or cutting on private property.
For tips and further information on protecting Texas timber, be sure to check out the Texas A&M Forest Service website.