Poacher Pleads Guilty To Timber Theft

Attorney General Spitzer today announced that a Broome County man pled guilty to a felony charge of stealing trees from state land.

"Trees growing on state land are a valuable resource to be enjoyed by all New Yorkers," said Attorney General Spitzer. "They are not there to be cut down and sold for personal enrichment."

Robert Stanton pleaded guilty today in Delaware County Court to a charge of Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree, a Class E felony. As a condition of a plea agreement, Stanton, 35, of 116 East Second Street, Deposit, is expected to be sentenced to one-and-one half to three years in state prison and will be ordered to pay restitution to the state of $5,600. He is being held in Broome County jail on unrelated charges pending sentencing which is scheduled for November 8.

An investigation conducted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) revealed that between September 23, 2003 and October 10, 2003, Stanton sold logs from black cherry trees that he had cut down from New York State land located off Steam Mill Road in the Town of Masonville. The stolen trees, valued at $5,600, are highly prized for furniture making.

Michael Fairbairn, an accomplice who helped Stanton load the trees onto his truck, pled guilty to one count of Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree and was sentenced on September 15 to five years probation, the first three months of which will be served in jail. Fairbairn is from Deposit.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Rocky Piaggione of the Attorney General's Environmental Crimes Unit. The tree theft was discovered by DEC forester Ben Peters and investigated by DEC police investigators Joseph Conroy and Stephen Canfield.