Not guilty: Jury says local roofer Nicholas Hesse did not bilk clients
EAGLE — A Vail Valley roofing contractor did not bilk clients out of money, a jury ruled.
The jury took about two hours to find Nicholas Hesse not guilty of two felony counts Wednesday afternoon.
Prosecutors charged Hesse with collecting up to $100,000 from clients and not doing the roofing jobs for which he had been paid.
“They slandered my name all over the county saying I was targeting elderly people,” Hesse said. “My career in Eagle County is done.”
Hesse, 30, acted as his own attorney.
“I told the truth,” Hesse said after the verdict was read. “I have dozens of happy clients in the valley.”
Hesse held out his roughened hands, palms up.
“Look at my hands. I’m a roofer, I’m not a thief,” Hesse said. “I’m a hard-working young man.”
Some clients accusing him began to demand their money back in as little as a few weeks, according to testimony. Dressed in work jeans, boots and a plaid shirt, Hesse told the jury in his closing statement what he has insisted all along.
“This was a civil issue to begin with. These homeowners did not have to try to send me to prison after making a fake Facebook page. This was a monetary dispute over a contractual issue. That’s what it comes down to,” Hesse said after the verdict was read.
Hesse said he was extradited back to Eagle County, making the trip in a panel van with no windows.
“It’s nerve-wracking, what I went through,” Hesse said. “I’ve been through hell. I have nightmares about it.”
Hesse said he has been waiting two years for his day in court. He said he was exercising his Sixth Amendment rights to due process, to representation and a fair trial. He added that unless you’re homeless in Eagle County you cannot qualify for a public defender.
Hesse said he’s going to make it the civil matter that he said it should always have been and is hiring an attorney to try to recover some of his losses.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.