The Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Investigators and the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office have arrested a 51-year-old woman on an allegation of theft.
The woman, 51-year-old Frances Charline Lee Cole, was arrested on March 2 after being accused of stealing between $2,500 and $30,000 via a timber deal in Hopkins County.
According to Texas A&M, Cole had entered into a real estate agreement for 42 acres of land in Hopkins County.
Following the agreement, Cole apparently convinced a logging company that the property belonged to her. Cole and the logging company then entered into a contract to sell the timber from the land.
According to Texas A&M, a timber deed was filled with Kaufman County Clerk’s Office before the logger paid her the sum of $8,000.
However, Cole apparently backed out of the real estate sale of the property. The logger only learned of Cole’s alleged deceit after returning to the property to cut the tract.
Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Investigator Jonathon Keller said the logging company had essentially paid Cole for timber that she had no right to sell.
“Although our agency commonly advises landowners how to recognize and protect against cases of theft when selling their timber, landowners are not the only ones who should be diligent when entering timber sale agreements,” Keller said.
Keller added that all parties should make certain they know who they are dealing with and have all the facts before entering into a contract.
According to Texas A&M, timber theft can come in several forms, such as harvesting timber without the landowner’s consent or knowledge, stealing timber or money from logging companies, and neglecting to pay its full purchase price after entering into a formal agreement.
The agency urges any party looking for guidance regarding buying or selling timber to contact their local Texas A&M Forest Service office.
To report suspected timber theft or suspicious activity, call the Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Timber Theft Hotline at 1-800-364-3470.