Summit County plumber pleads guilty to felony theft, tax evasion
Tracey Tucker receives six-month jail sentence, $39,000 in restitution
BRECKENRIDGE — Tracey Tucker, a local plumber who stole thousands in deposits for unfinished jobs in the area, pleaded guilty to a pair of felonies during a virtual hearing Monday morning.
Tucker joined his attorneys, prosecutors and victims in streaming into the courtroom where Judge Edward Casias heard the case in person and tried to work out the kinks of the court’s new virtual hearing system — which occasionally sent shrieks of audio feedback throughout the room.
Tucker, who formerly ran a contracting business called Mountain Mechanical out of Fairplay, pleaded guilty to a pair of felonies and was sentenced to six months in county jail in addition to restitution payments.
An investigation into Tucker’s practices began in 2018, when officials discovered a number of incidences wherein he would charge individuals thousands in deposits for plumbing work, which he neither completed nor reimbursed his customers for. He was arrested in September that year on charges of theft, though more question marks were raised before the case could be adjudicated.
In December 2019, a Colorado Department of Revenue investigation revealed that Tucker also failed to file state income taxes for the past several years. He was charged with three counts of felony tax evasion.
During the hearing Monday, Tucker pleaded guilty to felony charges of theft and tax evasion. The plea agreement also outlined a stipulated sentence, including a total of 180 days in county jail, five years of supervised probation, and more than $40,000 in restitution and fines.
Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Cava said that while punitive steps had to be taken, both sides agree that a shorter incarceration period would be in everyone’s best interest to allow Tucker to begin paying restitution. Cava also successfully urged the judge to make paying the restitution a requirement for the successful completion of his probation.
“We do think that a jail sentence is appropriate in this case to serve the purpose of a penalty,” Cava said. “But it is important for Mr. Tucker to be able to work so that he can pay this restitution. … We’re also requesting the payment of restitution become a condition of this probation. … Part of the issue is these folks don’t believe that he will actually pay because they haven’t seen it yet.”
A couple of victims in the case also tuned into the hearing and shared their experiences in dealing with Tucker. Both noted that the fraud caused considerable financial and personal stress in their lives, well beyond whatever restitution Tucker would be required to pay.
“There’s such a profound emotional impact,” one victim said. “There’s the stress of going through home repairs alone, on top of having thousands of dollars lost, and the frustration of trying to work with someone who constantly makes promises and doesn’t follow through. … Your hope keeps being crushed. It’s a whirlwind of emotion and damage.”
Tucker’s attorney Daniel Kyser said his crimes were largely a case of Tucker getting “in over his head” to the point where he could no longer perform jobs or pay back the people who hired him. Kyser continued to say that Tucker was dedicated to paying back the victims in the case.
Tucker also spoke on his own behalf.
“I’m sorry this happened,” Tucker said. “I didn’t mean for it to happen this way. I couldn’t stop it from happening when it was happening. It just got out of control.”
Casias blasted what he called the “lameness” of the apology but accepted the terms of the sentence. Tucker was granted a stay on his sentence until July 1.
“You put these people through basically hell for a period of time, in what I would call an unsophisticated construction Ponzi scheme,” Casias said. “You were robbing Peter to pay Paul. And ultimately everyone lost, you included.”
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