Alabama fan not making payments for poisoning Auburn’s tree

AUBURN, Ala. — A prosecutor wants to know why a University of Alabama fan who pleaded guilty to poisoning landmark oak trees at Auburn University isn’t making court-ordered restitution payments.

Harvey Updyke was ordered to appear in court Oct. 30 to explain himself, Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes told WRBL-TV.

Updyke served more than 70 days in jail in 2013 and was ordered to pay about $800,000 in restitution after admitting to poisoning trees at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn. Fans traditionally rolled the trees with toilet paper after a win, but the original oaks died after being doused with herbicide.

Updyke has paid less than $5,000 and often misses payments, Hughes said.

Fans roll the poisoned oak trees at Toomer’s Corner one final time following Auburn’s A-Day spring NCAA college football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.Dave Martin / AP file

“We have been keeping an eye on his payments or more specifically, his non-payment, and he has made exactly two payments for a total of $200 in the past year. Because of that, we have been looking for him for close to a year, and we finally found him,” said Hughes.

A judge previously threatened to jail Updyke for failing to pay the money, and he cited Updyke for contempt of court when the man failed to appear at a hearing about the unpaid money in 2017.

Updyke, 70, is a former Texas trooper who now lives in Louisiana.

Updyke posted recent Facebook updates with a crude comment about Auburn and a video saying his monthly rent was going up almost $200 to $700 with a $500 deposit.

“Roll, Tide,” he screamed at the end.

Updyke has embraced his role as a “villiain” at Alabama sporting events, the prosecutor said, and he was in Tuscaloosa for a football game in November.

“If you have enough money to go see your team play, you have enough money to pay Auburn University,” said Hughes.

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