Orchard owner offers cash reward for information on vandalized trees

Three trees were chopped down in January

By Jennifer Ortega - Reporter


A Merritt Island orchard owner says his land is so close to the road, he thinks someone walked onto his property and took a saw to three trees, cutting them down.

"When I looked down this isle I could see something that didn't look right," said Okie LoPresti.

LoPresti says he checks the nursery twice a day everyday, and that therefore, it didn't take long for him to spot trouble one morning in January.

"As I walked out here and I get closer and closer, I was, like, 'This is crazy,'" he added.

That's when he noticed the base of the trees had been cut and he was flooded with emotion.

"Devastated,; I could not believe my eyes when I saw this. We have people who come from all over the country," LoPresti said. 

He tells us he poured his heart and soul into building Nick's Island Tropical Fruit, naming the orchard after his 11 year old son and hoping one day to pass it down to him.

"Those trees are about 10 years old,; they're almost as old as my kid, I have a lot of kids. That's how I look at them," he said.

LoPresti was so upset by what happened he made a website, orchardcrime.com.

On the side he offers a $5,0000 reward and a section where people can submit anonymous tips about what happened. So far, he says the website has gotten more than 400 views.

"I felt like I had to go above and beyond myself, to do something myself to get the attention that I wanted it to have," he said.

LoPresit says just replacing the trees will cost three times more than the reward he's offering. Since the vandalism, he's put up a sign across from the orchard hoping anyone with information comes forward.

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