Grand Rapids resident Joseph Leon Edminster pled guilty on Friday to stealing thousands of black spruce tree tops from the Chippewa National Forest in Cass Lake.
 
Court documents indicate the 70-year-old cut the tops off more than 2,700 black spruce trees, and sold the tree tops for use as Christmas decorations. Retailers throughout Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois are said to have sold the tree tops for $2.50 to $7.50 depending on the height, after Edminster had sold the tree tops for $1.50 to $2.50 a pop to wholesalers.
 
Over the course of a six-year period, from October 2008 to October 2014, Edminster stole nearly $25,000 worth of spruce tops from federal land, court filings said.
 
Furthermore, court documents note Edminster did not have the authority to take the spruce tops and, as a result, was convicted on one count of theft of government property.
 
Depending on his sentencing, Edminister could be imprisoned for no more than 10 years, or face a fine of no more than $20,000, or both, according to state law.

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