HUNTSVILLE, TEXAS – Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Investigators arrested Philip Eugene McKenzie, Jr, 60, of Magnolia, Texas on two counts of Timber Purchase as a Trustee with Intent to Defraud in Montgomery County on February 24, 2022.
“Mr. McKenzie had timber harvest agreements with two Walker County landowners and failed to pay them for the timber that was harvested from their property,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Criminal Investigator Josh Mizrany.
The charges are State Jail Felonies which can lead to up to two years in jail and fines up to $10,000.
In addition, McKenzie currently has a pending charge of an Unauthorized Timber Harvest in Montgomery County.
“With this pattern of criminal behavior, I would not be surprised if there are more Texas landowners who have fallen victim to Mr. McKenzie’s alleged fraud,” said Mizrany. “I encourage anyone who may have had a timber harvest agreement with this individual to come forward.”
Landowners who suspect timber theft or suspicious timber sale agreements, should call the Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Timber Theft Hotline at 1-800-364-3470.
Timber theft can take a variety of forms – from harvesting timber without the landowner’s knowledge or consent, to entering into a formal agreement and not paying them the full purchase price and even stealing timber from logging companies.
To prevent timber theft, landowners should:
- Visit their property frequently.
- Have someone they know and trust report any cutting on their land immediately.
- Never sign a contract without checking several references of the buyer.
- For the best price, insist on getting bids for their timber.
- Mark all property lines to assure cutting on adjacent property does not encroach on theirs.
- Utilize trail/deer cameras on their property that can record suspicious activity or individuals.
- Always hold their timber contractor to the agreed upon terms.
Landowners who are unfamiliar with selling their timber are urged to contact their local Texas A&M Forest Service office. Texas A&M Forest Service field staff assists landowners with the process of securing the services of a professional resource manager to help select trees for harvest, estimate values and find potential buyers.
To report suspected timber theft or suspicious activity, call the Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Timber Theft Hotline at 1-800-364-3470. The Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department works diligently with local officials to help bring those responsible for timber theft and other violations of the natural resources code to justice.