March 27, 2012

Tree trimmer pleads guilty; will pay restitution

CHICKASHA — OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma tree trimmer plead guilty Monday to exploiting the elderly and was ordered to pay $18,700 in restitution, Attorney General Scott Pruitt said.

Brian Howell Thornburg, 33, Chickasha, pled guilty in Cleveland County District Court to two felony counts for exploiting elderly persons or disabled adults. Thornburg operated a tree trimming business in Norman, Moore and Del City under the name of Nationwide Tree Service.

Thornburg received a 5-year suspended sentence and will serve 90 days in jail. While on probation, he is prohibited from contracting or trimming trees for anyone over age 65.

In June, the Attorney General’s Office filed charges in Cleveland County after an investigation by the Public Protection Unit uncovered several violations. Investigators found that Thornburg contracted with several older residents to trim trees. After initial payment, Thornburg told residents that removal was required at an additional cost because the trees were infested. The trees were found not to be infested and, in some cases even though residents made the extra payments, the trees were never removed.

The Public Protection Unit protects consumers from fraudulent, unfair or deceptive business practices and can provide conciliation services to help resolve complaints against businesses. For more information or to file a complaint, go online to or call (405) 521-2029.