A Winlock man was sentenced to federal prison on Tuesday, April 19th, for violating the Lacey Act. Harold Clause Kupers, 46, of Winlock, will serve six months in prison, six months of home detention, three years of supervised release, and must pay $160,000 in fines after he trafficked big leaf maple from the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Kupers pled guilty to this offense in November and admitted he believed the specialty maple had been illegally taken from the national forest land. Kupers was the owner of J & L Tonewoods, now defunct, which sold lumber to purchasers through interstate commerce. The certain maple which was illegally taken is very valuable in the making of musical instruments.
According to the plea agreement, in April 2012, law enforcement officers with the U.S. Forest Service met with Kupers and specifically informed him that he was required by Washington law to review specialized forest products permits for all persons from whom he purchased maple. Despite that, he admitted, he continued to buy the wood without requiring the harvesters to show the permit until March 2014. Three men who illegally cut the wood previously pleaded guilty to theft of public property or conspiracy to steal public property for illegally harvesting the maple trees in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in November and December 2011 and May 2012.
James Miller, 36, of Morton was sentenced in February to six months in prison and three years of supervised release. Ryan Justice, 28, of Randle, was sentenced in December to 15 months in prison. Kevin Mullins, 56, of Packwood, is scheduled for sentencing June 6.