SUMTER CO., GA (WALB) - A north Georgia man is accused of stealing more than $100 thousand worth of timber by harvesting thousands of trees that didn't belong to him.
Sheriff Pete Smith is blown away with what he says James Weldon did to Sumter County landowners.
It started in 2012 when investigators said that Weldon spotted the plot off Pessell Creek Road.
"He found it online and he just decided, 'hey I can go down and steal this timber and they'll have a hard time catching me'," said Sumter County Sheriff Pete Smith.
A bench warrant convinced Weldon to turn himself in this week, it's taken three years to track down Weldon.
Investigators knew this was more than an honest mistake made by a forester.
"This guy started out to beat these people. He had every intention of defrauding these people," said Sheriff Smith.
Investigators believe Weldon drove logging trucks up and down Pessell Creek Road for days clearing out more than 240 acres of trees totaling $105,000. Sheriff smith says this isn't his first time doing this.
"This is not [his] first rodeo. He's done this before, but he's caught now and he's incarcerated in the Sumter county jail," said Sheriff Smith.
Sheriff Smith says Weldon has also been caught scheming landowners in Florida and South Carolina, but his most recent land heist has landed him in the Sumter County jail on felony theft charges.
"I feel like he probably had some assistance from somebody but we don't know who that would be," said Sheriff Smith.
Weldon is the only person charged at this time. Sheriff Smith says they intend to prosecute Weldon to the fullest extent.