Grand Rapids man pleads guilty to theft of tree tops from Chippewa National Forest
January 16, 2017
ST. PAUL—A Grand Rapids man pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property Friday after prosecutors say he stole thousands of black spruce tree tops from the Chippewa National Forest.
According to a news release from U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger's office, Joseph Leon Edminster, 70, pleaded before a U.S. district judge in St. Paul. Edminster stole more than 2,700 of the tree tops between October 2008 and October 2014, the release said.
After stealing the tops, Edminster would sell them to wholesalers for $1.50 or $2.50 each for use as Christmas decorations. The wholesalers would then sell them to retail outlets in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, according to the release.