Baton Rouge, La. (October 7, 2019) – A couple from DeRidder, La. is in trouble with the law for allegedly stealing timber from an absentee landowner. The timber is valued at $36,094.87.

Ricky L. Cooley, 51, and Priscilla L. Cooley, 48, of 426 Arthur Cooley Rd., DeRidder, La., were arrested by enforcement agents with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) on October 2, 2019.

In January 2019, LDAF enforcement agents received a complaint from the absentee landowner who hired Ricky Cooley to harvest timber on the landowner’s 50 acre tract of land located in Vernon Parish.

During the investigation, LDAF enforcement agents found 34 loads of timber the Cooleys allegedly concealed and failed to make payment to the landowner.

The Cooleys were booked into Vernon Parish Detention Center where bond was set at $25,000. They bonded out of jail on October 3.

A conviction of theft of $25,000 or more can result in a fine and/or imprisonment at hard labor.

“Timber is a long-term investment. It is very important that landowners use caution and do their homework before contracting with someone to do any kind of work with their timber,” LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said. “Get references, ask friends, neighbors and call our office to be sure you are dealing with a reputable outfit.”

Strain advises anyone who suspects timber theft to contact the Office of Forestry at 225-925-4500.