A roofing contractor who scammed clients in Montrose, Grand Junction, Durango and Summit County was on Thursday sentenced to eight years in prison for felony theft, according to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
George Harris, who was indicted in 2017, was convicted of seven counts of felony theft this past June in Grand Junction District Court. After he serves his time, he will be on 10 years of economic crimes probation and must pay restitution to his victims, many of whom were older adults. His business partner, who pleaded guilty to felony theft and was a cooperating witness at the month-long trial, will also pay restitution.
“When bad actors — especially ones providing essential services like roofing repair — victimize and deceive consumers, they hurt the entire community,” said AG Phil Weiser in a provided statement.
“Dishonest and deceptive businesses that violate the law and steal from Coloradans will not be tolerated. Those who engage in these illegal business practices must be held accountable.”
Harris, using his front-business East West Roofing LLC, offered potential clients an initial estimate for roofing repairs and solicited down payments, then failed to complete the contracted roofing project. He kept and used the solicited funds for personal expenses, including multiple houses, frequent lavish meals, and anti-aging procedures. Between June 2014 and May 2015, he bilked 30 victims out of more than $250,000.
The Residential Roofing Bill of Rights, which became law in 2012, requires roofing contractors to keep client funds in a trust either until materials have been ordered or a large portion of the contracted roof has been completed.
Harris broke this law, despite having full knowledge of its existence, the Attorney General’s Office said. At trial, numerous community members and victims explained how Harris harmed the Western Slope community.
The Criminal Justice section at the Colorado Department of Law (DOL) received the case from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), a non-profit agency that monitors insurance-related crimes and refers them to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation and prosecution.
“This is a clear example of our continued partnership with our property and casualty member companies and law enforcement to combat roofing contractor fraud,” said NICB chief operating officer Jim Schweitzer, also in a provided statement.
“Unfortunately, we see this type of fraud happen especially after a major hail storm where unscrupulous contractors are looking for ways to make a quick buck off homeowners in a vulnerable situation.
“This is why we encourage homeowners to contact their insurance company or agent if they have damage to their property, and always be suspicious of a contractor that tries to rush you into signing a contract or start work without providing any references.”
The Criminal Justice section prosecuted the case. During the trial, DOL attorneys were sworn in as Special Deputy District Attorneys under 21st Judicial District Attorney Dan Rubenstein who provided local support during the trial.