NOTICE: This is an archived press release. Information contained on this page may be outdated. Please refer to our latest press releases for up-to-date information.

Post date: April 2 1999

Broome County Logger Pays $20,000 For Timber Scam

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a Broome County man has paid $20,000 in partial restitution for swindling four landowners in a tree logging scam.

The payment was ordered and collected on April 1 by Tioga County Court Judge Vincent Sgueglia as part of John Finch’s sentence for pleading guilty on February 1 to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree. Finch, 52, of Powderhouse Road, Binghamton, must also serve five years probation and pay an additional $20,000 in restitution to the landowners he defrauded.

"This case is part of a growing problem associated with the increasing value of hardwood timber," said Spitzer. "My office will aggressively prosecute criminal activity of this type whenever it occurs."

In 1995 and 1996, Finch contracted with four landowners in the Town of Richmond, Tioga County - one of them an 82-year old widow in a nursing home - to cut timber from their property, sell the wood to local sawmills and then share the proceeds with them. In fact, Finch never paid the property owners for the trees he cut on their land.

After an investigation by the Department of Environmental Conservation, Finch was charged with four counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and one count of Scheme to Defraud. Finch faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted of all the charges.

Rather than face trial, Finch pled guilty to a single count of Third Degree Grand Larceny.

At his April 1 sentencing before Judge Sgueglia, Finch was ordered to pay $40,000 in restitution to his victims - $20,000 of which he paid immediately - and serve five years probation. Finch must pay the remaining $20,000 in restitution during his probation.

Assistant Attorney General David J. Prior prosecuted the case.