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Post date: February 1 1999

Binghamton Man Pleads Guilty To Tioga County Tree Theft

Binghamton timber cutter John Finch plead guilty today to a single count of Third Degree Grand Larceny for swindling four landowners in Richmond, Tioga County, of money he owed them after signing contracts to cut wood on their property.

Attorney General Spitzer hailed the action, saying, "Mr. Finch’s conduct in this case was despicable. He entered into signed agreements with trusting landowners - one of them an 82-year old widow - to cut trees on their lands while having no intention of ever paying them their fair share of the proceeds from the sale of their own timber."

In 1995 and 1996, Finch, 52, contracted with the four landowners to harvest timber from their land, sell the wood to local sawmills and then share the proceeds with the property owners.

In fact, Finch never paid the landowners for the trees he cut on their property.

Finch was indicted on four counts of Third Degree Grand Larceny and one count of Scheming to Defraud, all felonies. He faced up to seven years in prison if convicted.

To satisfy all the charges against him, Finch plead guilty to one of the grand larceny charges while also agreeing to pay $40,000 in restitution to the landowners and serve five years probation.

"Mr. Finch is a well-known operator in the timber industry in the Southern Tier and our consumer affairs office has received hundreds of complaints about him," said Rocky Piaggione chief of the attorney general’s environmental unit. "This was a good prosecution."

Finch is scheduled to be sentenced April 1 before Hon. Vincent Sgueglia in Tioga County Court.


Attorney General Spitzer's Toll-Free Consumer Hotline can be contacted by calling 800-771-7755