ROANOKE, Va. — Three men have been indicted after federal prosecutors accused them of stealing walnut trees from federally protected land, officials said.
William Riley Stump, 52, of Narrows, Virginia, and Derrick Anthony Thompson, 48, of Princeton, West Virginia, were arraigned this week in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia.
The indictment was returned last May and was unsealed earlier this month following the arrest of two of the defendants. A third defendant remains at-large, and his identity remains sealed.
According to court documents, Stump, Thompson and another indicted co-defendant conspired to cut and remove black walnut trees located in the Bluestone Project in Giles County, Virginia, and take them to Lindside, West Virginia, to sell.
The Bluestone Project is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Flood Damage Reduction program designed to inhibit flood-level water flow along both the New River and Bluestone River. The project’s federally-protected area involves 21,000 acres of land that is a fertile habitat for growth of certain trees and plants, including the highly valuable black walnut trees, which are among the largest and longest living hardwood trees in the United States.