Man who poisoned Auburn trees to pay $800,000 in restitution

OPELIKA, Ala., Nov. 13 (UPI) -- A Louisiana man who poisoned two historic oak trees at Auburn University has been ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution and fines, officials say.

An Alabama judge ordered Harvey Updyke to pay Auburn $796,731 in restitution in monthly payments of $500, the Opelika-Auburn News reported during the weekend.


Updyke, a University of Alabama supporter, pleaded guilty in March to poisoning the trees after the Iron Bowl in 2010.

Circuit Judge Jacob A. Walker III also ordered Updyke, believed to be living in Hammond, La., to pay $2,000 in legal fees and $16,500 in court costs, the report said.

"The court believes the defendant failed to fully take into account the repercussions of poisoning living things, and finds that his actions placed the public at considerable risk of health concerns," Walker said in his order.

The state had initially sought $1.35 million in restitution.

Andrew Stanley, Updyke's attorney, argued his client was indigent and was on Medicaid and Social Security disability. Walker responded there was no evidence Updyke was unable to work to pay the restitution and that the monthly payments would not be "overly burdensome."


The court said Updyke could reduce his fines by performing community service for non-profit organizations. He will be credited $25 for every eight hours worked.

Updyke was given a six-month jail sentence after pleading guilty to one count of criminal damage of an agricultural facility, Courthouse News Service reported. He still must serve five years probation.

Auburn has removed the trees and plans to redevelop the site by 2014.

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