MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A man pleaded guilty Friday to stealing thousands of trees from Chippewa National Forest and selling them as Christmas decorations.

Joseph Leon Edminster, 70, pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property.

According to Edminster’s plea and court documents, Edminster stole 2,700 black spruce tree tops from the forest between Oct. 2008 and Oct. 2014.

After stealing the trees, Edminster sold them to wholesalers for use as Christmas trees.

Since 2008, Edminster stole nearly $25,000 worth of trees, according to U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger’s office.

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