High Country Crime: Basalt roofing company allegedly hacked competitor, sabotaged bids
December 10, 2017
The owner of a Basalt roofing company and one of his supervisors allegedly hacked a competitor's computer files earlier this year and used the information to undercut and sabotage the company's bids for jobs, according to court files and police reports.
Gregg Mackey, the owner of Red Eagle Roofing, turned himself in Thursday at the Pitkin County Jail and was charged with computer crime, a high-level felony charge on par with second-degree murder.
Mackey's lawyer said Thursday his client did not know about the hacking and blamed a former employee for the illegal activity.
That former Red Eagle employee, Richard Acerra, is facing the same computer crime charge and was supposed to turn himself in by Friday, said Brad Gibson, an investigator with the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office.
Acerra, however, placed the blame squarely on Mackey's shoulders in a brief phone interview Thursday.
"That direction (to hack the bids) came from the owner, Gregg Mackey," Acerra said. "Gregg was fully aware of everything. I'm being railroaded — you can print that."
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Acerra said he would turn himself in at the jail today.
The situation first came to the attention of law enforcement in early August, when the owner of Umbrella Roofing in Basalt, Trevor Cannon, reported the alleged hacking, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court and Sheriff's Office reports.
In August, Cannon said a former Red Eagle employee had begun working for him as a project manager six months before. The project manager stored his passwords for Umbrella's software system that kept track of the company's roofing bids on cloud-based management software, according to the documents.
Someone — possibly Mackey — at Red Eagle was then able to guess the project manager's password to the cloud-based system, which allowed Red Eagle access to Umbrella's roofing bids between February and August, according to the affidavit and sheriff's reports.
In June, Red Eagle Roofing hired a new estimator to measure roofs and create roofing estimates for potential customers. The estimator told investigators that on his second day on the job, Acerra walked him through the process of completing Red Eagle's bids, according to the reports.
The process entailed pulling up Umbrella Roofing's software on the new employee's laptop and instructing him to plug in any address Red Eagle was planning to bid on to see if Umbrella was planning to bid on the same job, the reports state.
"(The new employee) said Acerra told him to undercut Umbrella Roofing's bid by 7 percent," the reports state. "(The new employee) said he told Acerra, 'Sir, I'm not doing that.'"
The next day, the new employee went to Mackey and told him what Acerra directed him to do, saying he didn't feel comfortable with the arrangement, the reports state. Two weeks later, Acerra sent out two bids for roofing jobs in Snowmass Village based on Umbrella Roofing's estimates, according to the reports. One of the bids was $1,000 below Umbrella's, while the second was $30,000 below Umbrella's bid, the reports state. The $30,000 was almost exactly 7 percent below Umbrella's bid, according to the reports.
The new employee again confronted Mackey with the scheme, saying it was a felony "and he felt he was doing something illegal," according to the sheriff's reports.
Mackey told the employee he would get a new computer and that his current laptop would no longer be used. A week later, the same computer was still in the office, the reports state.
The employee decided he couldn't work at Red Eagle under such circumstances, scheduled a meeting with Cannon and told him what was happening, the reports state.
During the six-month period in question, Umbrella Roofing lost out on 32 bids worth more than $2.9 million in Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt and Carbondale, according to Mackey's arrest warrant affidavit. In addition, a review of computer records showed that Red Eagle accessed another 24 bids for roofing jobs Umbrella completed, the affidavit states.
Gibson, the sheriff's investigator, said he was working to determine which bids Red Eagle received after undercutting Umbrella, which likely will result in future theft charges against Mackey and Acerra.
Cannon, Umbrella's owner, also told sheriff's investigators that some of the company's estimates had simply disappeared.
"The more we look into it, there seems the possibility that Red Eagle actually deleted some estimates and customers from our system," Cannon wrote in an email to Gibson included in the sheriff's reports.
-Jason Auslander, The Aspen Times
Intoxicated man tries to pull woman into restroom
On Dec. 1, Glenwood Springs police responded to a "physical disturbance" at Rivers Restaurant where an intoxicated man was in a fight outside. At the scene, an officer found a crowd standing around a man sitting at the curb. A bartender told an officer that the 47-year-old man "had refused to leave and had gone in the women's restroom, then had to be escorted outside," according to a police report.
When the man tried to walk away, the officer stopped him, then detained him after he refused to provide identification and tried to walk away again. The officer found the 47-year-old had an active Larimer County warrant for failure to comply on a controlled substance/DUI charge, according to an affidavit.
A cook reported that the man was acting normally when he came to the bar, acting "very polite and friendly." He ordered four Fat Tires over about two and a half hours. "He then came up to the bar and ordered a round for the bar, which we all found a bit peculiar," the cook reported.
The general manager told police that the restaurant staff was having trouble with the man, and they had asked him to leave several times.
A 49-year-old woman reported that, when she went to the restroom, she found the man standing inside the women's restroom. She said that he "grabbed her by the arm and was pulling her inside the restroom against her will." He also had a bottle of some kind and "kept poking and touching her" with it as he continued "struggling with her to get her inside the restroom," according to an affidavit.
"He had some kind of bottle in his hand and was trying to put it on my face," she reported. She also saw another woman in the restroom at the time. A man nearby stepped in and got the 47-year-old man off of her. Then he and others took the man outside.
Staffers reported that he had caused "multiple disturbances" over this course of time. Outside he became aggressive, grabbing and thrashing at employees.
Near his bag, officers found the bottle he was trying to touch people with. It contained a red liquid with a cinnamon scent, though officers were not able to ascertain what it was.
He was arrested on felony false imprisonment, misdemeanor harassment and misdemeanor second-degree trespassing.
-Ryan Summerlin, Glenwood Springs Post-Independent
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