Men charged with removing walnut trees on federal land

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ/US Attorney’s Office Release) – A federal grand jury in Roanoke has indicted three men for conspiracy, Lacey’s Law violations and other charges related to the alleged illegal removal of walnut trees from federally protected lands.

The indictment was dropped following the arrest of two of the defendants. A third defendant is still at large and his name has not been released.

William Riley Stump, 52, of Narrows and Derrick Anthony Thompson, 48, of Princeton, West Virginia, were arraigned this week in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

Stump is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit an offense to defraud the United States, five counts of violation of the Lacey Act, five counts of theft of government property, five counts of kidnapping wood on United States lands and seven counts of unlawful cutting of trees on United States lands. Thompson is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit an offense to defraud the United States, one count of violation of the Lacey Act, one count of theft of public property, one count of removal of timber on United States lands and three counts of illegal cutting of trees on United States lands.

The Lacey Act prohibits trafficking in illegally caught, possessed, transported or sold fish, wildlife or plants.

The government alleges this happened from or around August 2019 and continued into or around February 2020.

“The Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute those who steal natural resources from federal lands for personal enrichment,” said U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh. “Federal Protected Lands not only serve as conservation and flood management areas, but also provide an intrinsic beauty that we all enjoy, especially here in the Western District of Virginia.”

“It is the duty and mission of United States Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations to protect our federal land resources from theft, destruction, and unwarranted disturbance, and to deter and prevent crimes,” said Katie Ballew, USDA Forest Service Patrol Captain George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

According to court documents, Stump, Thompson and another man conspired to cut and remove black walnut trees from the Bluestone project in Giles County and take them to Lindside, West Virginia, to sell.

Project Bluestone is a United States Army Corps of Engineers flood damage reduction program designed to inhibit flood level water flow along the New River and Bluestone River, according to the prosecutor’s office. American. The project’s federally protected area includes 21,000 acres of land that provides habitat for the growth of certain trees and plants, including black walnut trees, which are among the tallest and oldest hardwoods in the United States. .

Copyright 2022 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.