Man could face 10 years in prison for cutting trees |

Man could face 10 years in prison for cutting trees

A young man has pleaded guilty to illegally cutting down 100-year-old trees in the Tahoe National Forest on the shore of Davies Creek/Stampede Reservoir north of Truckee.

John W. Clifton, 20, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Sacramento to dropping at least three mature pines that averaged 100 feet in height, according to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Forest Service.

Investigators for the Forest Service worked with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Sacramento to bring it to court.

“This was an utterly senseless crime,” said U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott. “The defendant’s wanton destruction in this case damaged a protected shoreline and the loss of these mature trees disrupted the natural habitat.”

The accused man, who has Truckee and Sierraville addresses, may have cut down as many as 33 trees at the lake, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Ellen Endrizzi.

Lawyers in the case agreed to a recommended sentence of $70,000 restitution for the loss of all 33 trees, five years probation and 500 community service hours.

The defendant will be sentenced on Dec. 2 in federal court and faces a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years probation, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. If the judge does not accept the recommended sentence, Clifton could withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail or call 477-4237.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User