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Backus man charged with red pine damage

A 51-year-old Backus man has been charged with first-degree criminal damage to property for driving 6-inch nails into about 500 red pine trees that were sold at auction.

Stephen Louis Olson was charged Monday in Cass County District Court with Criminal Damage to Property in the First Degree - Under Theory of Liability of Crimes of Another.

If convicted, Olson faces a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

The Cass County Sheriff's Office arrested Olson on Friday after executing a search warrant at his residence, according to a Cass County press release.

According to the criminal complaint:

A logger reported in mid-November that he had received a bid on a tree sale and was preparing to log the area when he noticed a handwritten sign nailed to a pine tree with two 6-inch long pole barn nails.

The sign claimed there were nails in each tree.

Investigation revealed more than 500 trees that had been spiked.

The spiking reduced the value of the trees by more than $1,000.

Investigators learned that Olson - who owns adjacent land - had expressed anger, frustration and resentment for the county's plans to have the trees logged, according to the complaint. Olson told others that he intended to spike the tees with pole barn nails.

In an interview with investigators, another man said that he and Olson purchased six boxes of pole barn nails and spiked the trees in about one week with the help of a juvenile, according to the complaint.