Enrichment Arts & Culture

Siblings face felony charges for chopping down centuries-old walnut tree

Story at a glance

  • Ohio siblings are reportedly facing felony charges after cutting down a 250-year-old tree.
  • Fifty-six-year-old Todd Jones and his 54-year-old sister, Laurel Hoffman, were indicted on felony charges of grand theft and falsification after removing the black walnut tree.
  • “This is so ridiculous that they’re doing this,” Jones said. “This is insane. There was no ill intent.”

Ohio siblings are reportedly facing felony charges after cutting down a 250-year-old tree on public property over two days in September.  

Fifty-six-year-old Todd Jones and his 54-year-old sister, Laurel Hoffman, were indicted on felony charges of grand theft and falsification after removing the black walnut tree, which authorities said rested on Cleveland Metroparks property but was also only steps from Jones’s land, according to The Washington Post 

Witnesses reportedly told police the pair had a company cut the tree into logs with chainsaws — earning a profit of around $2,000 

Both Jones and Hoffman told The Plain Dealer in separate interviews they believed the tree, which officials estimate was worth roughly $28,000, was on their property.  

“This is so ridiculous that they’re doing this,” Jones said. “This is insane. There was no ill intent.” 

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Jacqueline Gerling, a Cleveland Metroparks spokeswoman, told the Post the tree, which was among the largest black walnut trees in the state, could be more than 250 years old.  

“Given our urban setting and the threats to healthy tree growth, it is very uncommon to find a black walnut of this size,” Gerling added. 

Jones allegedly initially denied knowing about the fate of the tree, reportedly noting his belief that it was “well known” the tree sat on his property despite never viewing official boundary documents. He then said his sister was not involved in the removal, and he took sole responsibility.  

“It’s not the crime of the century,” he reportedly told police. 

But Cuyahoga County prosecutor Michael O’Malley told The New York Times the siblings’ alleged action represents a serious issue.  

“We will not ignore people trespassing onto park property and illegally cutting down irreplaceable trees for profit,” he said. 


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