Two men have been indicted on criminal mischief and trespassing charges stemming from an incident in early 2018 in which they allegedly entered a neighbor's property in the Skyland neighborhood of Lake Oswego and cut down more than 30 large trees.
Edward Jeffery, 49, and Andrew Tagliafico, 43, were both arraigned in Clackamas County Circuit Court on July 16. They were each charged with one count of first-degree felony criminal mischief, one count of second-degree criminal mischief and one count of second-degree criminal trespass, both of which are misdemeanors.
The trees were all located in a roughly 15,000-square-foot area at the western edge of a 17-acre property on Viewpoint Lane. The Review first reported on the incident in February after the property's owner, Luis Pacheco, discovered that the field had been leveled, with most of the downed trees still lying on the site.
Jeffery lives on a property adjacent to the field where the trees were located, according to court records, while Tagliafico lives in Government Camp. According to police, Jeffery purchased the property within the past year; the real estate website Zillow lists the property's last sale date as Oct. 24, 2017, approximately three months before the trees were cut down.
According to LOPD Lt. Darryl Wrisley, an investigation found that a total of 34 trees were removed, although three of them were below the minimum size to be included in the criminal indictment, so the charges only pertain to 31.
The majority of the trees were Douglas firs, although the grove also included some sweet cherry, red alder and big leaf maple trees. A certified arborist evaluated the trees and estimated their lost value at $27,420, Wrisley said; the cleanup cost to haul them away and grind up the stumps was an additional $23,000.
The City of Lake Oswego is separately pursuing civil charges against the defendants through its own Municipal Court, Wrisley said, for 31 counts of violating the City's Tree Code. Most of the Skyland neighborhood is in unincorporated Clackamas County, including Jeffery's property, but Pacheco's property is inside Lake Oswego city limits.
Six of the removed trees were protected by a Sensitive Lands overlay, Wrisley said, making their removal a violation of the City's municipal development code. In total, he said, the presumptive fine from the City is $61,109.
Pacheco told The Review in February that his family purchased the Viewpoint Lane property in the 1980s with a plan to develop and subdivide it, but the plans never materialized and the site was left mostly undeveloped and forested. He estimated that some of the downed trees were more than 30 years old based on their ring counts.
Pacheco told The Review that he visits every few weeks to check on the property and perform general maintenance. He found the field of downed trees during a visit on Feb. 17, and also noticed that a section of the chain-link fence along the western side of the field appeared to have been pushed over. He reported the incident to the Lake Oswego Police Department.
According to City officials at the time, no permit applications were submitted or approved for the Skyland cutting, and Pacheco said he certainly didn't put in any requests. No one had called or contacted him about removing the trees, he added.
Since Pacheco hadn't visited the property in several weeks, it wasn't immediately clear exactly when the trees had been cut down. The indictment states that the alleged criminal acts took place "on or about" Jan. 29, 2018.
Reached on Thursday, Pacheco declined to comment for this story. A case-management hearing for Jeffery is scheduled for Aug. 30; a similar hearing for Tagliafico is scheduled in Clackamas County Circuit Court on Sept. 12.
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