2008-11-13 / Local & State

Man Gets Prison In Timber Thefts; Lifetime Ban

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A judge says a central Pennsylvania man must leave the timber business for life, and sentenced him to four to nine years in prison for stealing timber or the proceeds from it from his customers.

Thirty-seven-year-old Francis Ritchey, of Claysburg, had previously pleaded guilty to theft and not paying state income taxes from 2003 to 2005.

Ritchey still owes about $490,000 in restitution to people he ripped off.

Investigators say Ritchey illegally removed timber from land in Blair and Bedford counties without paying for it. In some instances, Ritchey agreed to split the proceeds 50-50 but paid property owners only a fraction of that.

Blair County Judge Tim Sullivan says Ritchey violated the rights of his clients, many of whom were elderly.

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