Leading Billboard Company Avoids Criminal Charges in Tree-Cutting Controversy

Wednesday, August 08, 2012
(billboard design: Don Frankenfeld)
One of the nation’s largest advertising billboard companies will not face criminal prosecution for killing thousands of trees in Florida.
Lamar Advertising Co. avoided going to trial after the State Attorney’s office in Tallahassee decided not to prosecute the case involving at least seven years of secretly chopping down or poisoning trees to provide clearer views of roadside signs.
Prosecutors said the Florida tree killings did take place. But unlike a similar case in Connecticut that went against Lamar two years ago, Florida officials could not gather enough evidence to go after the company. They cited problems with uncooperative witnesses and the death of a company executive linked to the tree attacks.
“Although I suspect this was (and may still be) a corporate-wide practice, I have no evidence to show that it is occurring or has occurred in other Lamar offices,” investigator Jason Newlin wrote in his report, which was provided to FairWarning.
Lamar won a second victory when a federal judge threw out a whistleblower lawsuit brought by former Lamar crew chief Robert Barnhart, who admitted that he poisoned trees and claimed he was fired for refusing to continue to do so.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Whistleblower Exposes Tree Poisoning in Billboard Business (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)



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