Summit County plumber in hot water after allegedly stealing thousands in deposits
SUMMIT COUNTY — A plumber operating in Summit County is in hot water after failing to complete a number of jobs he agreed to take on from residents around the county this year. Law enforcement authorities are accusing him of stealing thousands of dollars from multiple victims in the process.
Tracey Craig Tucker, 49, is charged with class-five felony theft, reserved for individuals who have stolen between $5,000 and $20,000, and appeared in Summit County Court on Wednesday afternoon for a disposition hearing.
On Sept. 20 the Summit County Sheriff’s Office received an online crime report from residents in an unincorporated area outside of Blue River alleging that Tucker had stolen more than $7,000 they gave him for plumbing work he never completed. According to court documents, the alleged victims told police that they hired Tucker and his business, Mountain Mechanical, to complete some plumbing work at their residence. Tucker told the couple that he required half of the more than $14,000 price tag as a deposit, and asked them to write a check out to his wife on July 20.
The check was cashed on July 23, though Tucker never arrived to do the job. The couple told police that Tucker gave them six different dates in which he would start their project, but never appeared. The couple later discovered that Tucker never pulled any work permits from the county to perform the work, at which point they decided to take legal action.
But it soon became clear that this couple wasn’t the first to have issues with Tucker and Mountain Mechanical. Police found a number of complaints on the company’s Yelp page alleging similar misconduct and thousands in stolen deposits.
“He is a con-artist,” said one dissatisfied customer. “We have talked to another person in the county that hired him for a job and had the same thing happen to them — paid half, signed a contract, and didn’t hear back from him. It is extremely unsettling to see people take advantage of other community members in the way that Tracey takes advantage of people.”
Rumors of the business’s practices also emerged in September on the One Man’s Junk Summit County page on Facebook, as individuals took to social media warning locals to “beware of Tracey Tucker and Mountain Mechanical.”
Posts about Mountain Mechanical’s poor practices date back to late June and have popped up as recently as late September. One post, dated Sept. 18, even alleged that Tucker was planning to “skip town.”
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office spoke to Tucker about the claims that were reported on Sept. 20. He told deputies that he took the couple’s money, but claimed he planned to pay them back. He also said that he was the subject of numerous civil lawsuits and that he planned to attend the hearings. When pressed on his plans to leave town, Tucker admitted that he was planning on moving to Hawaii on Sept. 24, just days after his arrest warrant was issued, according to court documents. During his hearing on Wednesday, Tucker noted that he is currently living in Hawaii and returned to Colorado for his hearing.
During their investigation, deputies spoke with a number of individuals who allegedly had run-ins with Tucker. One of the parties who reported Tucker on Sept. 20 told deputies that she had been in contact with Tucker’s wife’s step-mother, who allegedly told her that Tucker and his wife were not planning on coming back to Colorado from Hawaii. The step-mother also allegedly told her that his new employer in Hawaii agreed to pay Tucker in cash so that he wouldn’t be subjected to any potential wage garnishments, and said Tucker put down $2,000 on a condo in Kona.
Police also contacted Tucker’s former landlord, who claimed that Tucker had a private lender purchase his former residence and then skipped out on him. His former landlord also claimed that Tucker had given away his dog in anticipation of fleeing to Hawaii.
A warrant for Tucker’s arrest was issued by Summit County Judge Edward Casias on Sept. 21, and Tucker was taken into custody in Pueblo County soon after. The theft charge is punishable by up to three years in the Colorado Department of Corrections. He will return to Summit County for his next hearing on Feb. 11.
Tucker declined to comment on the allegations made against him, though District Attorney Bruce Brown provided some wisdom for consumers looking to avoid potential theft or fraud in dealing with contractors.
“In order to avoid becoming a victim of contractor fraud, never put down a substantial amount of money prior to commencing a project and make sure that any remaining balance will only be paid according to a schedule for project completion,” said Brown. “Another tip is when looking for a contractor, consult friends who may have previously employed capable workers, consult with third party reviewers such as the Better Business Bureau or ask the contractor for references before any money changes hands. Lastly, always put agreements in writing.”