EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—Logger Raymond James Vetort, owner of R&J Logging in Stephenson, received three years of probation Monday and was barred from bidding on Department of Natural Resources logging projects for the same amount of time, after agreeing to plead guilty in October to felony trespassing or damages to state-owned forest.

But Judge Chris Ninomiya also said Vetort would go to prison for six months if he doesn’t meet the terms of the probation.

Vetort was originally charged with three felony counts of larceny involving the stolen logs, malicious destruction of trees belonging to the State of Michigan and of trespassing or damages to state-owned land. Each charge was punishable by 10 years in prison and a fine of $15,000.

Ninomiya dismissed the felony counts of larceny involving the stolen logs and malicious destruction of trees belonging to the State of Michigan.

The State of Michigan accused Vetort of stealing over $119,000 worth of timber from the state, according to the Michigan Attorney General’s office. Vetort apparently had a contract to log on state land, and the Attorney General’s Office accused him or his employees of taking timber that was not part of the agreement. “Limited logging contracts strike an important balance between resource preservation and economic development,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in an October press release. “The deliberate use of these contracts to obtain access to steal state timber is a serious criminal offense and will not be tolerated.”

Vetort wasn’t convicted of stealing because the charge was dismissed.

The original charges stem from incidents in July 2016, according to the Register of Actions. As of June 2021, Vetort and his attorney were willing to fight the charges by going to trial. A handwritten note on the Register of Actions said, “Appears both sides are dug in and prepared to duke it out.”