L.I. Tree Thief Caught Red-Handed: Officials

Wednesday, Apr 21, 2010  |  Updated 8:22 PM EDT
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L.I. Tree Thief Caught Red-Handed: Officials

Where the stolen tree was.

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New York officials say they caught a man removing six evergreen trees from state land on eastern Long Island. They suspect he may have taken dozens more.

Gilberto Arturo Bonilla-Sorta pleaded guilty this week to nine violations of state environmental laws.

Authorities got a tip that someone was taking trees from a preserve near Riverhead. They caught the suspect with six trees. Forest rangers later found about 86 holes, where trees once stood.

It's not clear what he was doing with them. Authorities say a juniper sold by a local landscaper could fetch as much as $160.

Bonilla-Sorta told authorities he was from Burtonsville, Md.

He was handed over to federal immigration authorities, who had an arrest warrant. Officials said he is originally from El Salvador.

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