The owner of a roofing company who is alleged to have stolen more than $200,000 from Western Slope customers and vendors in 2014 and 2015 is being prosecuted locally by lawyers with the state attorney general's office, in a multiweek trial that continues this week.
George Harris, 61, owned and operated East West Roofing LLC from a strip mall office near North Avenue and 29¼ Road for a number of years, but today he is the defendant in a trial that alleges widespread theft and fraud associated with the business.
One of Harris's partners in the operation was Amber Burch, 43. Both Burch and Harris were indicted on seven counts of theft after a statewide grand jury earlier considered the case.
Burch — who already pleaded guilty to felony theft, and is serving a probation sentence and making restitution payments — is expected to testify against Harris this week as a cooperating witness for the people.
According to Lawrence Pacheco, communications director for the Colorado Attorney General's Office, the lead prosecutor on the case is Alison Connaughty, senior assistant attorney general, and her co-counsel is Rob Shapiro.
Shapiro more than 20 years ago served as a deputy district attorney for the 21st Judicial District.
Both are considered special deputy district attorneys of the 21st District for the Harris trial after having been appointed by local District Attorney Dan Rubinstein, according to Pacheco.
Jury selection in Harris' trial began the first week of June, and opening statements were delivered on June 7. Evidence is expected to be presented this week and next, with Burch's testimony planned for Wednesday.
The lengthy trial is predicted to extend into the last week of June.
Harris is represented by local defense attorney Dan Shaffer.
A social media page for Harris's business still exists on Facebook, and it is littered with customer complaints and warnings about the company.
Customers on the site reported substandard work, leaky after-effects, little response from Harris and others despite sizable payments, and sometimes no work at all in spite of checks being written.
Many who posted to the site in 2014 and 2015 offered warnings to other potential customers and urged others with similar stories to get in touch with the Mesa County Building Department and state attorney general's office, who at the time were building a case against East West, according to online posts.
East West's reach wasn't limited to the Grand Valley, as a 2016 newspaper article posted to the site detailed Harris's dealings with two elderly people in Bayfield, who allegedly paid Harris $7,000 to fix a leaky roof but the company didn't replace a single shingle, according to the story.