Deputies bust tree removal ‘scam’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Deputies arrested a 53-year-old Olla, La., man on Monday after residents complained that he was running a tree removal scam, Adams County Sheriff Tommy Ferrell said.

Ferrell said Jimmy Lee Randall had been negotiating with area residents in order to cut down damaged, and sometimes healthy, trees.

Once the job was about half complete, Ferrell said, Randall would threaten to leave and force residents to cough up more money. &uot;He would cut the tree or strip it and then attempt to leave and tell the customer they made a deal to cut part of the tree and charge them more,&uot;&160;Ferrell said.

Email newsletter signup

Ferrell said after a &uot;bonafide complain,t&uot; Deputy Kerry Jackson spotted Randall’s truck – which was pulling a trailer with stump and tree removal equipment – and arrested him for driving with a suspended license -&160;a misdemeanor. The department is pursuing more charges against the suspect, he said.

Ferrell said many crimes of this nature go unreported and, therefore, unpunished. &uot;They go unreported because it verges on a civil matter,&uot; Ferrell said. &uot;But I think it’s a crime, because if you offer someone a verbal contract and they try to back out and charge you more – it’s a crime.&uot;

Scam artists often prey on the elderly and unexpecting, Ferrell said, who won’t put up a fight.

&uot;These no-gooders try to take advantage of the elderly … and leech them,&uot; he said. &uot;The sad part is, when it deals with the elderly, they won’t report the crime. Many will pay.&uot;

Ferrell warned citizens to be wary of these types of operations and said many &uot;scam artists’ have criminal records.

A female and small child were in the vehicle when Jackson stopped the suspect. The female was released with the child.