Alleged Vail Valley roofing rip-off lands contractor Nicholas Hesse in court
EAGLE — Prosecutors say a Vail Valley roofing contractor bilked locals for tens of thousands of dollars — maybe up to $100,000 — while delivering nothing.
Nicholas Hesse insists it’s a civil matter because it involves contracts.
It might involve civility, but Assistant District Attorney Heidi McCollum said it’s a criminal matter in her opening statement Tuesday.
Among other things, Hesse is charged with abusing at-risk adults. Two of his alleged victims were pushing 80 years when he used harassment, intimidation and undo influence to swindle them out of more than $29,000, McCollum said.
Hesse is acting as his own attorney and did not make an opening statement.
What witnesses say happened
Karean Madsen, 80, who told the jury that “I’m too young to be that old,” lost her husband in spring of 2017. She testified that the couple paid Hesse more than $29,000 for a roofing job he did not do.
Madsen said she paid Hesse $9,040, her husband paid him $9,200 and that they had to pay with a credit card to have a dumpster and material delivered to their home. The materials showed up, Madsen said, but Hesse did not. They finally had to have someone else put on their new roof.
Mark Lathrop testified that he and his wife, Sue, paid Hesse $9,200. Hesse had a dumpster delivered to the Lathrop’s driveway, but then the couple heard little more from him.
They signed a contract for $34,000. Pricey, but Hesse seemed to know what he was doing, Mark said. They wrote him a check for $5,000 to get Hesse started, and another check for $5,000 because Hesse told them he could get materials faster. Hesse picked it up from Lathrop’s office, Lathrop testified.
“When you gave him two $5,000 checks, what work was done on your property?” McCollum asked.
“Nothing,” Lathrop said.
Lathrop said he texted and phoned Hesse, but Hesse told Lathrop to leave him alone, that he needed some personal time.
Eventually, Lathrop repeatedly told Hesse to do the job or give him his money back.
Lathrop said Hesse told him to stop bothering him, and that he was suing Lathrop for breach of contract. Hesse didn’t, Lathrop said.
The trial is scheduled to continue through the end of the week.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.