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Author Topic: Maine logger fined  (Read 4787 times)

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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Maine logger fined
« on: August 19, 2001, 05:39:38 AM »
I saw this in the August Northern Logger.

A Maine logger has been fined $250,000 for unfair trading practices. Gerald Nelson, Jr of Freedom, ME has been ordered to pay the fine for cheating 11 landowners out of a fair market price for their harvested wood.  In addition, the Superior court has also ordered that any future contracts must contain the following boldface statement,  "Gerald Nelson, Jr. has violated the Maine Unfair Practices Act as well as the Consumter Solicitation Sales Act because of his harvesting practices."

No mention as to restitution to the landowners or how it was discovered.  I would imagine there was a joint lawsuit as well.
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline CHARLIE

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Re: Maine logger fined
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2001, 06:10:30 AM »
Ron, I need some education here. How could the logger cheat a landowner out of the fair market price? Isn't it the seller's responsibility to know the worth of his product? If the seller and the buyer agree on a price for a   tree(s), isn't that fair, even if it is under market price? There must be more to it than I'm reading. :-/  I'd like to know more about this.  
Charlie
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Maine logger fined
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2001, 06:35:39 AM »
That's the problem with those little news snippets.  They are short on facts.

One thing mentioned was the woodlot owners were cheated out of a fair price for harvested wood, not trees.  This could be a cut-for-share deal.  The logger agrees to pay a percentage of harvested timber to the landowner.  If the logger fudged the numbers, then he didn't pay the fair price.  

Another factor that can come into play with timber prices and the court is that timber is considered real estate until severed.  Then it becomes personal property.  

Fair market price is not necessarily the agreed upon price.  Fair market would be what you could expect to get on the open market.  These probably were not put on the open market, but were negotiated sales.

Landowners should know a whole lot more than they do when it comes to cutting or selling timber.  It evolves down to "who do you trust".  Consultant?  Procurement forester?  Logger?  Neighbor?

Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Offline Tom

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Re: Maine logger fined
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2001, 06:47:47 AM »
Charlie,

Many landowners don't know the worth of their timber nor how to find out.  They depend on "experts" the same as we do when we ask a Dealership to tell us what is wrong with our car.  I guess that little joke about "ASSUME" fits appropriately here.

I don't know the markets in the North but down here we have posts, pulp, micro-logs, chip-n-saw, sawlogs, poles and Veneer.  If a logger pays you for Sawlogs but in fact took them to a Veneer mill and pocketed the difference then he would have cheated you out of a considerable amount of money.  Not many landowners would know about this unscrupulousness.  It even gets away from some knowledgeable landowners.  

Most mills around here will not even buy from individuals anymore because of the threat of stolen logs etc.  A system was devised with a Log Broker as the middle man and mills will only buy from brokers.  That means that all loggers work for brokers.  The brokers receive the money from the mill and for a slight fee disperse it to the loggers and write the check to the landowner.  This is supposed to stop thievery but there is always someone that will get around any rule.

I still wish there would be someway an individual could sell his own timber to the mill, but the mills are running scared and you have to use a broker even if you are harvesting your own timber yourself.  It has taken the market away from a landowner who has just a few trees that have been lightning struck or bug killed because loggers won't mess with 4 or 5 trees. It would be worth it to the ladowner to be able to sell them for pulp or saw.

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Offline RavioliKid

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Re: Maine logger fined
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2001, 02:08:55 PM »
Tom,

What is a "micro-log"?

RavioliKid

Offline Tom

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Re: Maine logger fined
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2001, 03:46:19 PM »
A micro is a small log that normally would have gone to pulp wood but now is being put into chip-n-saw because of the enhancement of the mills.  You can spot them in the south double bunked on a tree length trailer. They are pine boles in the neighborhood of 6-10 inches in dia. and cut to lengths of around 16 feet.  Like Chip-n-saw their size depends very much on the mill to which they are going.
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Offline timberbeast

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Re: Maine logger fined
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2001, 12:17:53 AM »
This is touchy.  I'll have to camoflauge it a bit as to the exact facts.  Hired a guy a few years back on a handshake.  Never again.  He was to provide me x number of sawlogs,  piled at my landing ,  in exchange for cutting x dollars worth of pulp from my property.  He was to cut from one of my forties only.  Most of my land is swamp.  He was specifically instructed to stay off the high ground with markings in place.  Next spring,  I see that he has failed by about 5 cords in the sawlogs.  I walk the land and get to the high ground.  Stunned,  I start counting stumps.  47 yellow birch,  32 soft maple,  all over 30" at the stump are gone.  So are 5 hard maple,  which I measured the previous spring.  The biggest was 40" dbh,  the smallest 32".  (later,  out of curiosity,  I cut into the stumps of the hard maples and all had birdseye).  Something looks strange,  though,  and then I realize he has also taken all of the tops for firewood.  I now have 1 hardwood on that piece of ground over 10" dbh.  After contacting him,  he shows me a tally sheet which shows he got 180.00 for those logs.  (Wonder when he wrote that?)  He makes deal after deal to make it good,  finally in exasperation,  knowing he has 4 little kids and is doing poorly,  I settle for $2000.00.  The figures are not true,  but the math works out perfectly.  Opinions?  (the tree sizes are correct).
Where the heck is my axe???

Offline Tom

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Re: Maine logger fined
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2001, 04:15:41 AM »
This is how a lot of these guys get away with it.  They are crooked as a walking stick and depend on honest, community oriented landowners to take pity on their inability to provide for their families.

If you took him to court you wouldn't get anymore money and you may not get what's promised anyway.  

If you play hardball then you will have that image of children eating mush for the rest of your life and wonder if you punished the wrong person.

I think you are doing the "right" thing but you should not feel any qualms about passing your feelings on to other landowners and foresters for a long time to come.  I think you should feel ok offering this information in friendly conversation unsolicited.  

He or his crew got greedy and that's all there is to it.   The only thing that may have helped would have been to have a third party envolved in the planning of the cut.  That way it would have been more than his word against yours.

I like doing business on a handshake but find that a handshake doesn't mean much to some people.
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Offline CHARLIE

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Re: Maine logger fined
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2001, 08:40:09 AM »
The man should be flogged, but since that is out then I agree with Tom (Strange that I would do that). Anyway, the man is a crook and other landowners and sawyers and anyone else that will listen should be warned about this nitwit. I've always gone on the premise that you trust a man until he proves he is untrustworthy. I've been burned before, but I still like to operate like that. What's infuriating about your story is that those trees he stole were irreplacable in your lifetime. When someone puts the screws to me, I feel no compassion and will tell whoever will listen. I'm really sorry to have heard that story, it's a sad one.
Charlie
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Maine logger fined
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2001, 01:39:47 PM »
I'm amazed at the number of timber trespass cases there are and the number of forest landowners that have been taken advantage of.

I'm working on 3 such cases right now. One of the best investments that a forest landowner can make is to get a registered land line survey of their property and mark their property lines.

It doesn't take many lost veneer trees to pay for a land line survey to prove that it is your property. Those lost trees without proper compensation can't be replaced during your lifetime.
~Ron

Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Maine logger fined
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2001, 01:41:11 PM »
Guys like that depend on your compassion to get away with things.  What I've never been able to figure out is what they do with the money on things they have stolen.  All usually have broke down equipment and no money in the bank.

I had one guy I tried to help out with his mill.  I found a nice market for casket lumber, and he would take a flatbed pickup with about 1,000 bf on it.  They paid on the spot.

One day, the secretary at the casket plant asked if he could get 10,000 bf on his truck.  This guy was taking slips from the yard and added a 0 to the end.

He bought equipment from people and never paid.  He lived in subsidized housing and only owned the pickup truck to deliver pallets.

When the heat got real bad, he moved in the middle of the night.  I know he stuck the casket company for $50,000 and another guy for $10,000, and this was in the late '80s.

I did a little detective work and found the guy in Georgia, within a week; where he was arrested and put in jail.  I don't think much came of the case.  I lost a couple of hundred dollars, so I wasn't real interested in pressing charges.  I think lawyers dropped the ball on this one.

Did I care about his wife and kids?  No, he didn't care about mine or my reputation.  You reap what you sow.

This business is so mobile that telling other foresters or millers or landowners about them is of little use.  They just pull up stakes and move to another county, state, or country.
Never under estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.


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