PORT TOWNSEND – Trial dates have been set for two Forks men accused of chopping pieces of cedar logs on a state Department of Natural Resources bridge to sell on the black market.
Jose Carmen Salinas, 42, and Troy Stephen Crandall, 62, are each charged with first-degree malicious mischief – physical damage over $ 5,000, first-degree trafficking in stolen goods, and second-degree theft – other than firearm, according to court documents.
During their arraignment Friday morning in Jefferson County Superior Court, the two pleaded not guilty. The trial dates are set for January 24 for Salinas and January 31 for Crandall.
The malicious mischief charge and the stolen goods trafficking charge are both Class B felonies punishable by up to 10 years in prison and / or a fine of $ 20,000. The theft charge is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison and / or a fine of $ 10,000, according to court documents.
Both tried to reduce their bail from $ 50,000 to $ 10,000, but the motions were dismissed by Judge Keith Harper.
Deputy Prosecutor Anna Phillips said in court that Crandall had received 15 arrest warrants – including one active – and a history of non-appearances in court.
She also said that an MNR engineer informed her that the bridge had been closed due to damage.
“He basically deconstructed a bridge,” she said. “It was a situation that put people at risk.
“He’s not someone who just picked up cedar.”
Regarding Salinas, Harper pointed out that he had received more than 90 arrest warrants for his arrest over the past 40 years and that he had a history of skipping bail and not appearing in court.
Phillips also admitted that Salinas had a criminal history in several counties, including Clallam, Kitsap, Thurston and Grays Harbor, dating back to 1999.
At approximately 10:50 a.m. on Friday, October 22, state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) police officer Allen Nelson received a call from a deer hunter about a possible cedar theft in about 1.5 miles behind a closed DNR gate on Upper Hoh Road, according to a report Nelson filed.
The hunter had heard a chainsaw going up the hill where he planned to hunt, he said. As he walked up the hill where it leveled with the bridge, he saw a silver sedan, the chainsaw stopped, and he noticed cedar blocks in a nearby ditch.
He then left the area to call the DNR, according to Nelson’s report.
When Nelson arrived in the area, the hunter showed him where he heard the chainsaw and Nelson eventually came across a silver sedan, piles of cedar blocks stacked near the side of the wooden bridge and Salinas and Crandall sitting in the car, the report mentioned.
Nelson described the couple as “damp, cold and covered in cedar sawdust and both smelled strongly of chainsaw gas.”
When asked about the logging, Salinas said “they were hungry and needed the money,” according to Nelson’s report.
Crandall told Nelson that “this is corporate bullshit; this bridge is rotting ”and allegedly admitted to cutting the bridge before reading his rights, according to Nelson’s report.
Nelson said the outer span on the north side of the bridge had been cut and removed, cables holding the bridge were hanging underneath, and the lower beam on the west side had been sawn off.
The cedar laid on the bridge deck matched the lumber of the cut beam, Nelson said.
Two large chainsaws, two axes, a metal chock, a peavey hook and a two-gallon gas can were found at the scene, according to the report.
Nelson estimated the cost of repairing the bridge to be around $ 20,000 and said about $ 3,000 of cedar blocks were cut from the structure.
The DNR tweeted about the event on Thursday, saying it was believed the two would sell the cedar on the black market for mill owners to turn it into shakes and shingles.
The DNR tweet continued: “I can’t believe we have to say this, but don’t take chainsaws to our bridges.”
Anyone who sees anything abnormal on lands managed by MNR is asked to report it to 855-883-8368 or [email protected]
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected]