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Brothers from Ohio find themselves in trouble after cut down a 100 year old black walnut tree at a local park and sell the valuable wood.
Authorities near Cleveland, Ohio, filed grand theft and forgery charges against Todd Jones, 56, and his sister, Laurel Hoffman, 54.
The brothers noted that they believe the tree was located on a family property adjacent to Cleveland Metropark’s Mill Stream Run reservation and that they should not face charges, in statements to cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer.
“It’s so ridiculous that they are doing this”, Jones told the newspaper. “This is crazy. There was no bad intention ”.
Both pointed out to the media that his late father bought the property 36 years ago and he had constantly referred to the black walnut as “his.”
Hoffman questioned why park officials nor expressed any concern when the tree was cut down for a week in September.
“I have no idea where this is coming from”, He said. “It is ours. I just don’t understand any of this. “
As reported by WJW, a local Fox affiliate, in September lthe authorities began to investigate the incident when a Cleveland Metroparkz official noted that the tree had been “freshly cut” and that young trees recently planted nearby had been damaged.
According to the station, after being contacted by police, Jones initially told officers that I wanted to pay a fine and move on.
The man told investigators that never lived on the property and that he had acquired it from his father. According to the incident report, Jones said he was not going to “have this great investigation into this whole matter” because “this is not the crime of the century.”
Metroparks Director of Natural Resources Jennifer Grieser told The Plain Dealer that the black walnut was exceptionally large, at 5 1/2 feet wide and 17 1/4 feet in circumference, placing it among the largest of its kind in the condition.
Local media have cited documents that would show that Jones and Hoffman sold the tree to a logging company for $ 2,000.
However, park officials calculated “conservatively” the cost of the tree at $ 28,814 along with $ 102,909 for damaged saplings.
The logging company faces no charges because he did not know the origin of the tree.
Jones suggested to the outlet that the charges are a tactic to force him to sell the property to Metroparks, which said it tried to buy the property months ago for less than its value.
The foregoing was denied by Metroparks owners, through a statement.
The brothers are scheduled to be processed for the charges later this month.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.