(MCARTHUR, Ohio)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that an Ohio man was sentenced to prison for stealing more than $2 million in timber from property owned by an elderly Grove City resident.
This morning, Vinton County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Simmons sentenced Mark Betts, 53, of McArthur, to four years in prison. Betts was also ordered to pay $2,025,088 in restitution.
Betts, the owner of Betts Logging, pleaded guilty last month to cutting the trees from the victim’s property without permission and stealing the timber between April 2007 and September 2010.
An investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Vinton County Sheriff’s Office found that Betts harvested hundreds of acres of trees, valued by a forestry expert to be worth $2,025,088, from the victim’s property on Goose Creek Road and Dunkle Creek Road and then sold the timber to sawmills for more than $578,000.
“This defendant gutted approximately 700 acres of dense forest by taking advantage of the fact that the landowner could not regularly visit his property due to his advanced age,” said Attorney General DeWine. “The victim truly cared about preserving nature, so the ravaging of his property was devastating. I am pleased that my office was able to help get justice for both the victim and his family.”
Attorneys with Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecution Section prosecuted the case as part of Attorney General DeWine’s Elder Justice Initiative. Attorney General DeWine launched the Elder Justice Initiative in 2014 to increase the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse cases and improve victims’ access to services in Ohio. Anyone who suspects incidents of elder abuse or financial exploitation should contact their local authorities or the Attorney General’s Elder Justice Initiative at 1-800-282-0515.