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Pike timber company involved in alleged fraud; two arrested

A Pike County timber company is under investigation for racketeering and elder abuse is alleged fraud that spanned 16 counties including Lamar. Bibb circuit district attorney David Cooke said the allegations involved Cox Land & Timber Inc. of Pike County and six co-conspirators. Two people were arrested Tuesday as a part of the probe. John Barnhart Cox, 49, was charged with theft by deception. Jack Uselton Jr., 49, was charged with misrepresenting the origin or ownership of timber. The investigation was begun by the Georgia Forestry Commission. It involved 28 landowners in 16 counties. At least, 17 of the landowners were elderly, Cooke said. The 16 counties are Bibb, Baldwin, Dodge, Fayette, Green, Hancock, Henry, Jasper, Lamar, Meriwether, Monroe, Newton, Pike, Spalding, Talbot and Taliaferro. The defendants allegedly misrepresented the type and amount of timber harvested so they could pay the landowners less than what it was worth. It is also alleged they defrauded Graphic Packaging International in order to get larger payments from the mill. The investigation continues and more arrests are possible.

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