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More timber theft charges added

A man already in jail on timber theft charges, has had additional charges made against him, this time in Tangipahoa Parish, according to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

Derma Brent O'Neal, 39, of Livingston, is being held in the Livingston Parish Detention Center on two charges of timber theft unrelated to the Tangipahoa Parish charge.

The new charge stems from a complaint from an Amite landowner who said she entered into an agreement with O'Neal to harvest 20 acres of timber on her property. According to LDAF, the operation lasted from December 2017 to June 2018 in which 19 loads of hardwood timber were sold to various sawmills in southeast Louisiana.

The timber was valued at about $7,340, but O'Neal is accused of pocketing most of that. According to LDAF, O'Neal owes the landowner $6,200.

O'Neal faces up to 10 years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000 or both, if convicted of the most recent timber theft charge, LDAF said in a press release.

The two previous charges stem from an agreement O'Neal made with a landowner in Holden to harvest 3.5 acres of hardwood and pine timber. The harvesting in that agreement began in July 2016, but the complaint was filed in May and O'Neal arrested June 28. In that case, O'Neal is accused of not compensating the landowner at all. That timber was valued at about $3,000, according to LDAF.

If convicted of theft over $1,000 in that case, O'Neal faces up to five years in prison, $3,000 in fines or both, according to LDAF.

“Timber is a major industry in our state and we aggressively pursue timber theft complaints in an effort to protect landowners. We encourage anyone who is aware of this type of activity to please contact our Office of Forestry at 225-925-4500,” said LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain.

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