The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry says that nearly nine months after being arrested for timber theft, a Rapides Parish man is accused of committing the same crime for a second time this year.
Melvin Darren Edwards was arrested November 30, 2020 by Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) enforcement agents for theft of timber valued at $7,482.30.
The department says that in 2019, forestry enforcement agents received a complaint from the owner of a 35.6 acre tract of timberland located in Rapides Parish.
The landowner told agents that Melvin “D.D.” Edwards was hired to log this tract of land. The landowner also allegedly told agents he believed he was not paid for all the timber hauled off the property as a result of inconsistencies with timber payments.
Following an investigation, forestry enforcement agents say Edwards allegedly concealed and failed to pay for loads of timber.
Edwards was booked into the Rapides Parish Jail on one count of theft of timber less than $25,000. Bond was set at $5,000 and he has reportedly bonded out.
The department says that, if convicted, Edwards could receive a fine up to $5,000 and/or jail time up to five years.
Edwards is still awaiting trial for a previous arrest. Last March, the department says forestry enforcement agents arrested Edwards for allegedly stealing timber valued at just over $178,000.
“The landowners in the previous case also suspected they were not paid for all the timber that was hauled off their property,” said Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. “Timber theft is a serious crime. It is a valuable, long-term commodity. When timber is stolen, the money that would have been made from the sale could be money the landowner was planning to use in retirement or for college tuition.”
To report suspected timber theft, contact the LDAF Office of Forestry at 225-925-4500 to file a complaint.
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