Cutting Down Tree in Olympic National Park Sends Two to Prison

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Jul 09

Lewis & Laws

Cutting Down Tree in Olympic National Park Sends Two to Prison

by Lewis & Laws

Cutting Down Tree in Olympic National Park Sends Two to Prison

A case that began years ago in 2013 recently ended with two men being sent to prison. Michael Welches, 63, and Matthew Hutto, 50, entered Olympic National Park with lights and a chainsaw. Once they reached their destination—a big-leaf maple tree—they cut down the tree with their chainsaws, then began cutting and loading pieces of the tree. Unfortunately for the two tree thieves, there was a witness to their actions who reported the incident. The next day, an Olympic National Park ranger found the felled maple tree.

Apparently, believing they would not be seen again, the two men plus another man, returned the next night. The same witness heard the chainsaws and again called the National Park Service. When the park rangers arrived, the three men were loading the remainder of the maple tree into a vehicle. The men were arrested and evidence of the crime was collected. Specifically, the investigation turned up a receipt which indicated the wood from the maple tree was sold to a local music wood supplier. Police matched the wood sold with the wood of the felled park maple.

As music wood, the value of the timber was estimated to be approximately $8,766, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington. In a press release, a spokesman stated: "The tree as a living part of the Elwha ecosystem is irreplaceable…" After the two men pled guilty to the theft charges, Welches was sentenced to 30 days in jail, and Hutto to 60 days in jail and two years' probation. The two men were also ordered to pay $17,533 in restitution. The third man is currently serving time in jail for unrelated charges and will be sentenced at a later date for the theft of the maple tree.

Theft in Washington State

The crime of theft is the act of taking another individual’s personal property without that person’s consent. In Seattle, the crime of theft could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the item or items taken. Larger theft crimes are considered felonies, meaning the offender can be sentenced to a year or more in jail if convicted. The most frequent types of theft include vehicular theft, robbery and armed robbery, burglary, credit card fraud, identity theft, shoplifting, theft of livestock, theft of a firearm, theft of rental property, and theft of subscription television or internet services. 

Depending on the value of the item taken, as well as any extenuating circumstances surrounding the theft, a conviction for theft can lead to time in jail or prison, probation, electronic home monitoring, work release, restitution, fines, community service and counseling. Because the consequences of a theft conviction can change your life and your future, it is always in your best interest to speak to an experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney as soon as possible following your arrest. You need a vigorous, knowledgeable defense in order to avoid many of the adverse consequences of a theft conviction.

An experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney will ensure your rights are not violated, and that the evidence against you is real. You need an attorney who has the necessary resources to defend your charges, and who will give you the attention your case deserves. 

Theft crimes are very serious and can change your life in ways you may not have even considered. To ensure you do not end up with your life totally derailed—whether you actually committed the theft under extenuating circumstances or whether you are being falsely accused — contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney today.

Have you or someone you love been arrested and charged with a theft crime? Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws

If you have been charged with a theft crime in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Everett, or anywhere in the state of Washington, a Seattle criminal defense lawyer can protect your rights. Let the expert defense team at Baker, Lewis, Schwisow & Laws, PLLC fight aggressively for you and your future. Our lawyers have successfully defended clients in Seattle, Bellevue, and Kirkland. Contact us today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form to get more information or to get a free case review!

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