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Logger sentenced in old-growth tree theft

April 10, 2009 at 5:40 PM

SEATTLE, April 10 (UPI) -- A timber thief was sentenced to prison Friday for cutting down 31 old-growth cedar trees in a Washington national forest, federal prosecutors in Seattle said.

Craig James, 48, Aberdeen, Wash., was given two years for the illegal felling of the western cedar trees, some of which were nearly 600 years old, from the Olympia National Forest in 2006.

James sold around 30 cords of western cedar wood, which is valued for its use in making musical instruments, to area mills after using falsified documents stating the trees had been harvested from private property.

The U.S. Attorney's office said in a written statement that the trees actually came from one of the last known stands of old-growth western cedar in western Washington.

James did not act alone in the operation; however U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton said he was "the straw that stirred the drink" in the conspiracy.

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