LASALLE PARISH, LA (WAFB) - A 39-year-old Jena, LA man, who faces eight felony timber theft charges, is now facing an additional charge of felony theft. James Marcus "Mark" Ainsworth left the area during the first week of April 2014 and fled with his family to Alaska to avoid prosecution, according to LaSalle Sheriff Scott Franklin.
LaSalle authorities learned that Ainsworth left Jena pulling a U-Haul trailer loaded with his family's belongings and was believed to be headed for the Canadian border. A warrant was issued on an additional charge of felony theft and an APB was issued for his arrest. He was believed to be traveling to Canada in an effort to avoid prosecution in LaSalle and Catahoula Parishes on timber theft charges.
Authorities later learned that Ainsworth stopped in a town in Illinois, rented a storage building for the family's belongings and boarded a commercial flight to Anchorage, Alaska.
Early last week, Ainsworth turned himself in to Anchorage police and is being held for LaSalle Parish authorities. Sheriff Franklin said a deputy sheriff will be sent to Anchorage to escort the prisoner back to Jena.
Ainsworth was originally arrested in September 2014, by forestry agents with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) and booked into the LaSalle Parish Jail on one count of felony timber theft of more than $10,400. He was arrested again by forestry investigators on October 2, 2014, in LaSalle Parish for an additional count of felony timber theft of more than $28,000. On October 31, 2014, Ainsworth was again arrested for two additional counts of timber theft in Catahoula parish, totaling nearly $29,000, and again on November 24, 2014, for two counts of felony timber theft in LaSalle Parish totaling nearly $12,500.
Finally, on December 19, 2014, Ainsworth was arrested for the fourth time by forestry agents and booked into the LaSalle Parish Jail on two more counts of felony timber theft, totaling just over $14,600. LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., stated, "Our investigators found that Ainsworth cut the timber with the landowner's permission and that he was paid promptly for the timber. No scale tickets, settlement sheets or loader's log were ever received by any of the landowners as required under state law. The landowners simply received a check for a fraction of what they were promised."
Ainsworth is currently in the LaSalle Parish Detention Center on $1 million bond. In all, Ainsworth has seven timber theft charges in LaSalle Parish and two in Catahoula Parish.
Prior to the most recent arrest, Ainsworth is accused of stealing approximately $100,000 worth of timber from landowners.
Anyone who may have done business with Ainsworth is asked to contact the LDAF office at (225) 925-4500.