Man pleads guilty to stealing tree tops from forest

Published 9:44 am Monday, January 16, 2017

ST. PAUL — A Grand Rapids man has pleaded guilty to cutting thousands of tree tops from black spruce in the Chippewa National Forest.

Seventy-year-old Joseph Edminster pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to one count of theft of government property.

Prosecutors said he admitted to cutting more than 2,700 tree tops from the forest from October 2008 to October 2014. He then admitted to selling the tree tops to wholesalers for use as Christmas decorations. The wholesalers then sold them to retailers in Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

Email newsletter signup

It’s estimated Edminster stole more than $24,000 worth of spruce tops from federal land since 2008.