A Beauregard Parish couple is accused of theft of timber valued at more than $36,000, according to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry.
Ricky L. Cooley, 51 and Priscilla L. Cooley, 48, of 426 Arthur Cooley Road, DeRidder, were arrested Oct. 2 for timber theft by LDAF enforcement agents and booked into the Vernon Parish Jail. The Cooleys were released Oct. 3 on $25,000 bond each.
According to LDAF, investigators began looking into a complain in January. An absentee landowner hired Ricky Cooley to harvest a 50-acre tract on his property in Vernon Parish. LDAF agents found 34 loads of timber they allege the Cooleys "concealed and failed to make payments to the landowner," according to the LDAF report. That timber was valued at $36, 095.
"Timber is a long-term investment," LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain said in a press release. "It is very important that landowners use caution and do their homework before contraction with someone to do any kind of work with their timber. Get references, ask friends, neighbors and call our office to be sure you are dealing with a reputable outfit."
According to LDAF, a conviction of timber theft of $25,000 or more can result in considerable fines and imprisonment.
Anyone who might suspect they could be victims of timber theft are asked to call the LDAF Office of Forestry at 225-925-4500.