SUNBURY - A former Coal Township man charged by police in two communities with felony theft-related offenses for allegedly cutting down and removing 71 tons of pine timber valued at $4,400 from county-owned land was sentenced last month to two years probation and ordered to make restitution.

Michael W. Yost, 26, of 117A Creek Road, Dornsife, and formerly of West Wood Street, Coal Township, was sentenced Sept. 24 by Northumberland County Judge William H. Wiest on a misdemeanor of criminal mischief that he previously pleaded guilty to in county court. Additional felony charges of theft and receiving stolen property were not prosecuted under a plea agreement.

In addition to probation, Yost was ordered to pay costs of prosecution, a $100 fine and a $50 per month Act 35 supervision fee. He also must pay back $4,000 in restitution to the county.

Yost was charged by Coal Township Patrolman Terry Ketchem and Zerbe Township Police Chief Robert John with cutting the pine timber in the mountain areas of Coal and Zerbe townships between Sept. 22 and Oct. 28, 2011.

On Oct. 21, 2011, Dave Kaleta, then president of Habitat for Wildlife, reported to Coal Township police that he observed a white flat bed truck hauling a load of timber from the mountain area above the third patch of Bear Valley. He said the truck registered to Yost was an older model headed toward Shamokin. Kaleta told police he later spotted the truck at Turkey Hill Minit Market on Lincoln Street.

Shamokin Police Chief Edward Griffiths was contacted and stopped the truck as it was leaving the market and detained Yost until Ketchem and Coal Township Police Chief William Carpenter arrived at the scene.

Yost told police he cut the timber in Trevorton on Reading Coal Company property. Yost said he initially worked for a local timberer and continued to cut the timber and deliver it to Harmony Mine in Mount Carmel Township after his employer stopped timbering.

Yost told police he did not have a permit to cut the timber.

Northumberland County officials confirmed that no permits are issued for timbering on county-owned land.

On Nov. 11, Yost guided police to the areas in Coal Township and Zerbe Township where he cut the timber, which are owned by the county.

It was later revealed that Coal Township Street Department employees Darryl Kashner and Greg Snyder reported timbering taking place on Red Ash Road in the Burnside area. Police said the township employees both observed a white stake body truck belonging to Yost parked in the middle of the road containing a load of timber in the back. Kashner and Snyder also said they saw numerous pine branches lying along the road.

Kashner and Snyder said they saw two men in the woods. Snyder said one of the men appeared to be Yost. Police said Yost admitted being in the Burnside area and recalled seeing a Coal Township Street Department truck drive by.

Police said Yost told Snyder that he was cutting timber in the Burnside area and showed him a paper on Reading Coal Company letterhead. Snyder said he didn't read the paper, but was told by Yost that it gave him permission to cut timber on Reading Coal Company property.

Ketchem said he received weigh slips from Harmony Mine that showed Yost sold 71 tons of timber and received $4,400.