March 19, 2018
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Waterville logger pleads guilty in tree-cutting case

By Ryan McLaughlin, BDN Staff

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Waterville man was ordered to pay two landowners more than $25,000 Wednesday after pleading guilty in Sagadhoc County District Court to charges of unlawful cutting of trees.

Maine Forest Ranger Dan Skillin of the Maine Forest Service said Ivan Martin, 65, has been ordered by the court to make restitution totaling $22,091.31 to one victim and $4,915.63 to another for wood taken in the trespass of a property in Woolwich.

Skillin said another man in the case who had represented himself as the owner of the property, has been indicted and is in custody in Virginia.

Forest rangers were contacted in October by Kenneth Chamberland, who reported a logger had crossed onto his property on Sanders Road in Woolwich and allegedly cut several trees, according to Forest Ranger Jeff Currier.

Skillin subsequently launched an investigation and determined that 14 of Chamberland’s 18 acres had been chopped without permission.

Skillin also determined that a timber trespass had occurred on a lot adjacent to the original complaint area owned by Massachusetts landowner Eric Harper. The ranger found evidence of a pre-existing boundary in the form of a rock wall, granite monuments and metal pins, but determined that there had been no attempt by the logger to mark this property line with flagging.

According to Skillin, the investigation required Maine forest rangers to count and measure all of the stumps on the two properties, interview truck drivers who hauled the wood to various mills across southern Maine and collect scale slips from wood brokers who purchased the stolen wood.

The investigation took a bizarre turn when Skillin discovered that another man, Chuck Schooley, 40, of Woolwich, allegedly had represented himself as the owner of the Harper property and hired Martin to cut the property, but was not the actual owner of the land.

Schooley was indicted in December by a Sagadahoc County grand jury for forgery and felony theft. He is in custody in Virginia and is scheduled to be extradited to Maine to face these charges next week.

Martin was ordered by District Court Judge Ralph Tucker to make restitution for the wood taken in the trespass to Chamberland, in the larger amount, and to Harper.

“This case clearly represents the serious nature of timber trespass cases here in Maine,” Currier said. “The damage caused by this type of violation can have long-lasting effects to the property of the victim and, as in this case, can quickly turn into a significant financial loss for the property owner. We take these complaints very seriously, as do Maine’s district attorneys.”

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