A Basalt roofing contractor convicted in Mesa County in 2019 for deceiving clients lost his bid to have his convictions overturned, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
George John Harris used his business, East West Roofing LLC, to offer clients estimates on roofing repairs.
After accepting down payments, he never completed the projects, using the money instead for personal luxury items, according to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, which prosecuted the case with the aid of the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office.
Harris, who was convicted on seven counts of theft, operated his scam in multiple Western Slope communities.
On appeal, Harris’ court-appointed attorney argued that District Judge Lance Timbreza erred when he declined to allow defense attorneys to admit handwritten notes attached to a partnership agreement on grounds they lacked foundation.
His attorneys said as a result of Timbreza not admitting that evidence, Harris was denied his constitutional right to present a defense.
A three-judge panel disagreed.
“Harris’s handwritten notes were proffered to purportedly explain what he understood the partnership agreement to be, including the roles for each member of the business,” Judge Michael Berger wrote in the opinion, joined by Judges Daniel Dailey and Ted Tow. “The notes were irrelevant because they postdated the latest of the charged misconduct. Harris has no constitutional right to present irrelevant evidence.”
Prosecutors showed that between June 2014 and May 2015, Harris scammed 30 mostly elderly victims in Grand Junction, Durango, Montrose and Summit County for more than $250,000, using the money to buy homes, lavish meals and anti-aging procedures.
In addition to his eight-year sentence, Harris also was ordered to pay restitution to those homeowners, and he was placed on probation for 10 years.
One of his business partners, Amber Burch, pleaded guilty to class 3 felony theft, and was a cooperating witness at trial. She also was ordered to pay restitution.
Under Colorado’s Residential Roofing Bill of Rights Act, companies are required to keep client funds in a trust account either until materials are ordered or a large portion of the project is complete.
“The Constitution requires only that the accused be permitted to introduce all relevant and admissible evidence,” Berger wrote.