A fraudulent roofer who scammed more than a dozen La Plata County residents out of thousands of dollars each was sentenced Thursday in Grand Junction to eight years in prison after being found guilty on seven counts of theft.
A jury convicted George Harris of stealing more than $250,000 between June 2014 and May 2015 from 30 victims in La Plata County, Grand Junction, Montrose and Summit County. Harris’ sentence requires him to return the more than quarter million dollars he took from the dozens of victims, according to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.
Many of Harris’ victims were older and considered at-risk adults.
Law enforcement said 16 would-be La Plata County customers paid a total of $138,551.93 to Harris’ company – the Grand Junction-based East West Roofing LLC – between June and December 2014, according to a grand jury indictment.
The supposed roofers gave homeowners estimates for repairing a roof and sought a deposit for the proposed work. La Plata County residents paid East West Roofing sums of a little more than $1,300 to more than $20,000 by check.
Colorado’s Residential Roofing Bill of Rights requires roofing contractors to keep any deposits in a trust “until materials have been ordered or a large portion of the contracted roof has been completed,” according to a news release from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office about Harris’ sentencing.
But the money never went into a trust; instead, it went into Harris’ pocket.
He used the money “for personal expenses, including multiple houses, frequent lavish meals and anti-aging procedures,” law enforcement wrote in the release.
“Harris broke this law despite having full knowledge of its existence,” according to the release. “Numerous community members and victims, many of whom were older adults, explained (throughout court proceedings) how Harris harmed the Western Slope community.”
La Plata County resident Julia Hollingsworth said her parents, Marilyn, 74 at the time, and Frank, 85, of Bayfield, were scammed by Harris and taken for $15,892.59.
Her parents were trusting, she said. Frank worked as an oil engineer and Marilyn was a stay-at-home mom. They needed repairs to the roof of their home in Forest Lakes subdivision north of Bayfield. The Hollingsworths provided a down payment to East West Roofing LLC. The roofers kept promising to bring materials to the home but never showed up, Hollingsworth said.
At some point, the supposed roofer stopped answering their calls.
Hollingsworth’s parents have since died.
“It’s a shame my parents aren’t here to see it,” Hollingsworth said of Harris’ sentencing.
“That was a big chunk of their savings that they had to take out to do the roof.”
The hardest part for Hollingsworth, she said, was seeing her mother upset because she’d been scammed.
“My mom said she felt stupid. That made me feel sad for her because she’s not stupid. She is a very smart woman,” Hollingsworth said. “... It didn’t affect me quite as personally, but it hurts for me to see my family hurt.”
Bayfield residents Gerri and Frank Duffy were taken for $6,847.92. Gerri has since died, and efforts to reach Frank on Thursday were unsuccessful.