According to a U.S. Department of Justice press release in the fall of 2015, the company pled guilty to violating the Lacey Act. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, under the Lacey Act, it is unlawful to traffic in illegal wildlife. And in 2008, the act was amended to include plants and plant products such as timber and paper. Forestlegality.org states that this landmark legislation is the world’s first ban on trade in illegally sourced wood products.
For violating the Lacey Act, among other charges, Lumber Liquidators paid more than $13 million in fines and penalties to the national government and was placed on a five year probationary period while they implemented their environmental compliance plan.
On Oct. 7, 2015 executive director of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Alexander von Bismarck issued a statement about the plea. “This is the first time that a major U.S. corporation is found guilty of a criminal felony for smuggling wood, related to violations of the U.S. Lacey Act. It’s a long time coming, and urgently needed to protect the U.S. consumer from unknowingly financing organized crime and the destruction of the last virgin forests on earth…the real cost to the company will come from having to forego cheap, stolen wood in their supply chain while the DOJ looks over their shoulder.”
EIA was the first organization to expose Lumber Liquidators of importing illegally harvested timber in its 2013 report, Liquidating the Forests. Posing as timber buyers, EIA investigators went undercover to expose the illegal wood trade in the Russian Far East and traced the supply chains through China to a company that admitted to illegal logging, paying bribes, and that its single biggest trading partner was Lumber Liquidators. EIA’s report also relied on publicly available trade data, copies of court cases from Russian authorities, scientific analyses, and shipment records.
Lumber Liquidators’ bad press no doubt resulted in the new name announced last year to LL Flooring. Sales, even in the pandemic year, actually took off last summer and the company reported $1 billion in revenue. Sales were given a boost as more stay-at-home residents did a flurry of home improvement projects including new wood flooring.
In the past year, many of Visalia’s vacant storefronts along Mooney have found new tenants as word seems to have spread that the city is on the move. Last month the city set a record for new home permits.