A 60-year-old Arizona man has been convicted of destroying more than 500 trees in an upscale, suburban neighborhood where his in-laws own a home.
A jury found Douglas Hoffman, of Goodyear, Ariz., guilty of cutting down or poisoning 546 trees from October 2004 until his arrest in November 2005. He caused about $242,000 in damage.
Hoffman was convicted of seven felony counts and three gross
misdemeanor counts of malicious destruction of trees on the land of
another. Deputy District Attorney Josh Tomsheck said he knew of no
other case in Nevada in which prosecutors had used the obscure
Hoffman faces a prison term of up to five years for each of the felonies and a jail sentence of up to one year for each of the gross misdemeanors. He also could receive probation.
Hoffman looked after the landscaping at the home of his in-laws, who live in Chicago and also own the home in the age-restricted community of Sun City Anthem.
At trial, Tomsheck suggested that Hoffman destroyed many of the trees to protect the view of the Las Vegas Strip from an observation deck in the home's backyard. The prosecutor suggested that Hoffman destroyed others "to cover his tracks."
Defense attorney Joseph Sciscento tried to establish that Hoffman was disabled and physically could not have cut down the tress.
Hoffman was arrested after a neighbor saw him walking near freshly cut trees, offered to give him a ride and found a bow saw on him. The neighbor drove Hoffman to a police station, where Hoffman tossed a pair of gardening gloves into the bathroom trash, prosecutors said.
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)