Two Charged with Felony Theft of Walnut Trees at State Forest

Two men in Iowa are facing felony charges for theft of walnut trees they allegedly cut down from state land and then sold to a hardwood retailer.

Wood from the walnut tree is highly prized. (Shutterstock image)

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said in a news release that Bradley Lynn Hagerman, 38, of Pisgah, Iowa, and Eric Robert Freihage, 30, of Council Bluffs, are accused of cutting down nine live walnut trees in late January at Loess Hills State Forest, a state owned and DNR managed park.

They were charged with the following on May 25 by the Iowa DNR Law Enforcement Bureau, according to the news release:

  • 2nd Degree Theft, a class D Felony, Iowa Code 714.2(2)
  • Timber Buyer '“ Bond or Accounting Violation, a serious misdemeanor, Iowa Code 456A.36(5)
  • Timber Buyer Violation, a serious misdemeanor, Iowa Code 456A.36(3)

Apparently, walnut wood is highly valuable for many wood-working applications.

The state agency said the nine trees have an appraised value of more than $7,500.

Hagerman and Freihage allegedly sold the walnut trees to Midwest Walnut in Council Bluffs, Iowa, for $4,713.

The company is not facing any charges related to the case, DNR Public Information Officer Alex Murphysaid via email.

Midwest Walnut produces walnut and other fine hardwoods used for lumber, furniture squares, high-end gunstocks and other uses, according to its website.

The men turned themselves in and have since booked out of jail, the DNR said.

Note: A criminal charge is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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