Tree Trimming Scam Prosecuted in Ohio


Ohio’s Attorney General is doing something that isn’t happening regularly in other jurisdictions. They are prosecuting a consumer tree service crime that crossed the line and became criminal. It was a consumer rip off scam that involved both fraud and theft. Constable Leon of the OPP says in his 22 years of policing, he has never heard of such a tree related charge going to trial in Ontario, although he is aware of fraudulent roofing scams that have been prosecuted.

Jason Johnson, described as a 28 year-old white male, remained at large longer then his companions but he was finally apprehended in September on a warrant from Greene County in Springfield, Ohio. He was allegedly the ringleader of a tree and lawn service scam that preyed on elderly people with thirteen charges listed on the original indictment. The three accused in this case are now in the Ohio court system. Timothy Henery has plead; Christopher Gibbs goes to pre-trial on December 27; and Jason Johnson is scheduled to attend trial in mid-January. 

The group is accused of convincing victims that their trees were diseased or damaged after a storm. In some cases, the work was done – other times it was not completed. The three men are also suspected of “infiltrating legitimate tree care companies.” Spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General said it is believed that they were hired by legitimate companies but then pocketed the money from customers along with their pay cheques.

If the same crime was charged in Ontario, it would be filed as fraud under $5,000. It has a maximum penalty of up to two years, while fraud over $5,000 has a max of up to 14 years in jail. Offences can be combined or prosecuted individually.

Congratulations to the Ohio Attorney General and prosecutor Stephen K. Haller for standing up for professional tree care workers and their clients.


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