Greene County Man Arrested After Stealing Timber

(BEDFORD) – A Switz City man was arrested by Indiana Conservation Officers after he engaged in buying timber without a license from six adjoining landowners in Lawrence County during the summer of 2019. He also failed to pay three of the landowners for logs he removed from their property.

Alfred Barnes

Police arrested 65-year-old Alfred Barnes, of Switz City, on charges of corrupt business practice, fraudulent act of buying timber, and theft.

In January of 2020, Indiana Conservation Officer Detective Sgt. Trent Stinson began his investigation into Branes illegal timber purchases. Detective Stinson was informed by the licensing agent from the Indiana Department of Natural resources division of Forestry that Barnes has not had a license required to purchase timber in Indiana since 1999 and has a previous conviction for the same crimein Morgan County.

On February 11, 2020, Detective Stinson met with Don and Georgia Oakley in the 1140 block of Washboard Road. Oakley told police he noticed that Barnes was cutting timber on Tom Bishop’s property that adjoins him. Oakley asked Barnes about cutting some of the trees on his two acre property around his barn. Oakley said he asked Barnes about how it worked with price, and Barnes told him he couldn’t tell him. He
pulled the logs from the Oakley property to the Bishop property log yard. Oakley told Detective Stinson he contacted him around late spring, and his trees were cut in July. His first check was paid to him in August. The second was paid in December of 2019. Oakley thought he was shorted. Oakley had been paid for a total of 12 logs. Detective Stinson walked the property and noticed multiple stumps that had been recently cut.

On March 24, 2020, Duane McCoy, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Licensing Forester examined the trees from the Oakley property. On March 27, 2020 he provided detectives with an appraisal affidavit. McCoy found that a total of 26 trees had been harvested from the Oakley property. 12 were white oak trees in which averaged approximately three logs per tree. The Oakley’s only received payment for 12 white oak logs.

They have not received payment for the following trees:

  • 4 – Scarlet Oak
  • 4 – Yellow Poplar
  • 2 – Red Oak
  • 2 – Black Oak
  • 1 – Black Cherry
  • 1 – American Sycamore

McCoy estimated that the 2 trees contained 10,166 board feet and appraised the value at $5,637.40

On February 12, Detective Stinson met with Tom and Sandra Bishop at their home on 32 acres at 2501 Old State Road 37 in Bedford. The Bishops told Detective Stinson they met Barnes through a neighboring landowner to the west named Bary Brown. Bishop said the timber on his property was last harvested in 1997 so he was familiar with the timber process and kept very close records of the trees on his property.

Bishop said in the summer of 2019, he and Barnes walked the property talking about what trees to harvest. Barnes told him he would pay him 50 percent of the timber value. Barnes also put his log loading area on the Bishop property and pulled the logs from adjoining landowners to the Bishop’s property yard to be hauled off.

The Bishop’s kept detailed records of their transactions with Barnes. They provided Detective Stinson with a spreadsheet with most of the transactions. The others were unavailable at the time due to a computer issue. The sheet they provided showed that Barnes had paid them a total of $9,640.66 for their timber.

They had one temporary issue with a bad check, but it was resolved. Bishop said they are close to the amount that he received from a different buyer in 1997, so he does not believe he was shorted any money.

They told Detective Stinson that Barnes was the only person they dealt with during the purchasing process.

On March 11, 2020, Detective Stinson meet with Pastor Mark Brock of New Life Trinity Tabernacle located at 1208 Washboard Road in Bedford. Pastor Brock told Detective Stinson the church owns 2.25 acres. He said he noticed that Bishop was having timber cut behind the church and thought about having an area cleared out and making a little money for the church since the cutter was right next to them. The Bishops recommended Barnes to him.

Brock had a third party come to the church and look at the trees. The third party told him that they thought he had around $1,500 in timber and the church would likely get half around $750. They decided to use Barnes for convenience.

Brock had approached Barnes in the woods one day. Barnes told him they would work on halves. Brock said he had to call several times to get paid. Brock said he took white oak trees and a few others. He said Barnes
paid him for the white oak, but not the other logs. Brock provided Detective Stinson a load ticket showing where Barnes sold four logs to Brown-Forman Cooperages in Louisville, Ky. on August 16, 2019. He also provided an image of the check Barnes sent them for $516.

Detective Stinson then walked the property and noted several freshly cut stumps on the property.

On March 24, 2020, Duane McCoy, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Licensing Forester, examined the trees from the New Life Trinity Holiness Tabernacle property. On March 27, 2020, he provided Detective Stinson with an appraisal affidavit. McCoy found that a total of eight trees had been harvested from the church property. One was a white oak tree. The church received payment for only the white oak tree containing four logs.

They have not received payment for the following trees:

  • 3 – Scarlet Oak
  • 2 – Hickory
  • 1 – Yellow Poplar
  • 1 – Black Oak

McCoy estimated that the eight 8 trees contained 4,182 board feet and appraised the value of the timber taken at $937.70.

On March 11, 2020, Detective Stinson met with Terry and Patricia Deckard at their residence at 277 Randy Smith Drive.

The couple heard about Barnes from a friend named Mike Robertson. They told Detective Stinson that Robertson was not happy with Barnes’s work. They also told police Barnes had a saw mill in Linton. Terry told Detective Stinson that Barnes was there to get the timber out and sell it, and Terry would get half the money. He said that was how Barnes operates, and there was no written contract. He said he thought Barnes had paid them by check. Detective Stinson asked if Deckard felt Barnes had been paid for everything, and he said yes, he assumed he did, but had no idea. He said Barnes basically did what he said he was going to do. Patricia showed Detective Stinson a note sheet where she had written what Barnes had paid her on August 1. The total was $3,050.12 for approximately 30 trees from their property. They said they thought they were good with the amount they received and did not want to pursue any further theft investigation.

On March 12, 2020 Detective Stinson met with Bary and Cheryl Brown at their home at 223 Randy Smith Drive in Bedford. Brown showed Detective Stinson a business card of the Switz City Sawmill with Bruce’s name and phone number as well as the name and phone number of Roger Ballew, but they had only done business with Barnes. They said they had not met Ballew. They showed Detective Stinson a load ticket from Brown-Forman in Louisville, KY dated July 26, 2019 indicating that half of the price was $2,597.12 for 25 white oak logs. Barnes had also estimated the weight of a few other logs and paid Brown $400.

When asked if he thought he had been paid in full, and he said “not really”. Brown told Detective Stinson they were not interested in pursuing theft charges against Barnes. He mentioned that Barnes told him they would go 50/50 on the logs.

Brown described the interaction with Bruce and Mike Alexander (their neighbor). Brown said that when Bruce and he were out on his property marking trees to be cut and sold around May or June of 2019, and they approached Mike. Brown said he told Mike that Bruce was cutting for him and if he had anything to sell him, now would be a good time.

Mike owns one acre behind his residence with timber on it. Mike told them that anything he wanted to cut from that back acre he could. Brown said Mike told him he could use the money. Brown then thought Mike and Barnes got together later about it.

On March 12, 2020, Detective Stinson met with Mike Alexander at his home at 167 Randy Smith Drive in Bedford. Alexander told Detective Stinson previously told that he hadn’t been paid, and wasn’t’ sure how many trees Barnes had cut from his acre behind the house. Alexander Detective Stinson that he agreed with Bary Brown and the understanding was that he would be paid for the trees cut from his property. Alexander estimated three to four trees had been taken off his property, but hadn’t walked up to look.

He gave the detective permission to walk into the woods and look around. He discovered well over 4 freshly cut stumps on the property and told Alexander about what he found. He said he was surprised that Brown had already been paid for his trees and he had not. He told police that he would be interested in having a forester survey the property and pursuing a charge of theft.

On March 24, 2020, Duane McCoy, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Licensing Forester examined the trees from the Alexander property. On March 27, he provided Detective Stinson with an appraisal affidavit. McCoy found that a total of 15 trees had been harvested from the Alexander property. They have not received payment for any of the
trees taken.

They are as follows:

  • 6– Red Oak
  • 6 – Yellow Poplar
  • 2 – White Oak
  • 1 – Chinkapin Oak

McCoy estimated that the 15 trees contained 5,197 board feet and appraised the value at $1,511.55.

The information was forward to the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office and a warrant was issued for Barnes’ arrest.

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