A man has been indicted for third degree timber fraud by a grand jury in Jasper County
On Feb. 25, Troy Grice of Groveton, Texas, was indicted on a charge of timber purchase as trustee with intent to defraud.
According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, Grice is charged with defrauding a Jasper County landowner of between $20,000 and $100,000 worth of timber
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The Texas A&M Forest Service said Timber theft can take a variety of forms, from harvesting timber without the landowner's knowledge or consent, to entering into a formal agreement, harvesting a landowners timber, and then not paying them the full purchase price.
"The past few years we have seen an increase in Timber Fraud cases," Josh Mizrany, Investigator with Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department, said. "Most of these cases started off with a legitimate contract, but then the landowner only receives partial payment, or no payment at all."
Grice, 49, entered into a timber harvesting agreement through his company, Apex Timber, with a Jasper county landowner in January of 2019 to harvest 314 acres of timber, the Texas A&M Forest Service said.
The harvest was halted by the landowner in April of 2019, after delinquent payments started occurring, and the landowner reached out to Texas A&M Forest Service law enforcement for help.
"The Texas Natural Resource Code has a section which states that money collected from timber is trust money," Mizrany said. "And if the trustee of that money doesn't pay all of the beneficiaries for the timber within 45 days of the timber being sold, that person has committed the offense of timber fraud."
Once the Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department was notified of the unpaid balance, they began investigating the case, officials said.
During the investigation, Texas A&M Forest Service said officials were able to verify that Grice had not paid all of the trust money owed to the landowner.
According to the Texas A&M Forest Service, Grice was arrested on March 5, 2020, in Trinity County. The case was turned in to District Attorney Anne Pickle, who brought the case before a grand jury.
After hearing testimony, the grand jury decided that there was probable cause for Grice to be charged with a felony of the third degree, the Texas A&M Forest Service said.
"If you go into an agreement with a timber harvesting company and payment has stopped, or you're not receiving all of the revenue that you're owed-that they've contractually agreed to-it's important to notify the Texas A&M Forest Service law enforcement department right away," said Mizrany.