An Arkansas man pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally damaging and removing more than two dozen trees from a national forest.
Jamie R. Edmondson, 46, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge David P. Rush to one count of depredation of government property.
By pleading guilty, Edmondson admitted that he illegally cut and removed 27 walnut and white oak trees in the Mark Twain National Forest in Barry County, Mo., between June 1, 2019, and Jan. 31, 2020, without the permission of the U.S. Forest Service, which owns and manages the national forest. Edmondson sold the timber to various sawmills in the area.
According to the plea agreement, federal agents installed surveillance cameras in the areas of the national forest where numerous trees had been removed. The cameras captured images of the truck used by Edmondson, which was later located by law enforcement.
As part of his plea agreement, Edmondson admitted that the government can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the value of the timber was at least approximately $20,269, and that the ecological damage value of the trees cut from the national forest and the damage remediation costs to the U.S. Forest Service from his actions within the national forest are at least $44,414.
Under federal statutes, Edmondson is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Casey Clark. It was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service and the Barry County, Mo., Sheriff’s Department.