October 24, 2022 

    Magnolia man pleads guilty to unauthorized timber harvesting

    CONROE, Texas — A Magnolia man has been sentenced to two years of deferred adjudication after pleading guilty earlier this month to unauthorized timber harvest.

    Philip Eugene McKenzie Jr., 60, turned himself in on May 26, 2021, after Texas A&M Forest Service law enforcement investigators determined he was responsible after trees had been cut without the landowner’s permission

    McKenzie was sentenced Oct. 5, 2022, in Montgomery County District Court. His sentence includes community supervision and 120 community service hours. McKenzie was also ordered to pay $500 in restitution to the landowner. Deferred adjudication is a form of probation that allows McKenzie to accept responsibility of a crime without a conviction placed on his record.

    The landowner contacted authorities after discovering trees had been cut on his property without his permission in November 2019. The landowner, who does not live on the property, said he had a conversation with McKenzie about the possibility of harvesting timber from his land, but they didn’t reach an agreement or sign a contract.

    When the landowner discovered trees had been cut, damaged and removed from the property, he said he contacted local law enforcement officials, who suggested it was a civil matter between him and McKenzie. The landowner then contacted Texas A&M Forest Service law enforcement investigators, who assessed the damaged and obtained a warrant for McKenzie’s arrest.

    In addition to the Montgomery County case, McKenzie has been indicted on two counts of timber purchase as trustee with intent to defraud in Walker County that stem from separate investigations by Texas A&M Forest Service law enforcement officials.

    Timber theft can take a variety of forms – from harvesting timber without the landowner’s knowledge or consent, to breaking a formal agreement by not paying them the full purchase price and even stealing timber from logging companies. 

    To prevent timber theft, landowners should:
    • Visit their property frequently.
    • Have someone they know and trust report any cutting on their land immediately.
    • Never sign a contract without checking references of the buyer.
    • Get bids for their timber.
    • Mark all property lines to ensure cutting on adjacent property does not encroach on theirs.
    • Utilize trail/deer cameras that can record suspicious activity or individuals.
    • Always hold timber contractors to the agreed-upon terms.

    Landowners who are unfamiliar with selling their timber are urged to contact their local Texas A&M Forest Service office. Texas A&M Forest Service field staff assists landowners with the process of securing the services of a professional resource manager to help select trees for harvest, estimate values and find potential buyers.

    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. The Texas A&M Forest Service Law Enforcement Department works diligently with local officials to help bring those responsible for timber theft and other violations of the natural resources code to justice. 


    Texas A&M Forest Service Contacts:
    Josh Mizrany, Criminal Investigator, 936-295-5688,
    Texas A&M Forest Service Communications Office, 979-¬458-6606,