Former client, homeless man testify against Glenwood fraud defendant | AspenTimes.com

Former client, homeless man testify against Glenwood fraud defendant

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The head of the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association testified Monday that the defendant in a fraud case stole more than $100,000 from her when she and her husband were building a million-dollar house in Aspen Glen.

Monday’s testimony from Marianne Virgili came shortly before the prosecution ended its case against Shawnee Ryan and handed the trial to defense attorney Kathy Goudy.

Ryan told District Judge Denise Lynch on Monday that she would be testifying on her own behalf before the trial is done.

Ryan, 55, is accused of bilking as many as 40 different customers and suppliers of thousands of dollars over several years while she ran a series of interior-design shops in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Arrested and jailed in 2010, Ryan is free on a bond of $38,000 while the trial proceeds.

The trial is scheduled to last until Aug. 20 but could end early.

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Virgili told the court that she met Ryan late in 2008 after using a gift certificate purchased at a charity auction to hire Ryan for consulting services.

“Within a month, we became very close. She was at the house, on the construction site, more and more,” Virgili said, ultimately taking over as their owners’ representative in talks with contractors.

In January 2009, Virgili testified, a family illness forced her to travel frequently. She and her husband were ready to turn over management of the project to Ryan, Virgili said, when “suddenly, the relationship started to go south.”

She testified that Ryan, upset over being pressed to deliver materials that had been ordered and paid for, called Virgili “manipulative” and grew angry with her. Then one of their contractors warned the Virgilis of “questionable activities” having to do with other Ryan customers, Virgili said.

According to testimony, when Virgili and her husband decided not to put Ryan in charge, Ryan grew angry again and told Virgili she “wasn’t allowed to purchase any more” goods from Ryan’s shop.

Virgili ignored Ryan’s demand that she stay away from the building site when materials were delivered, Virgili testified. That was when Virigli learned that wooden flooring being delivered was not the flooring she had ordered months earlier, she said.

Virgili said $43,000 worth of cabinets ordered through Ryan were never delivered even though they had been paid for.

The relationship continued to deteriorate, ending in Ryan’s dismissal and her agreement to pay the Virgilis $57,000, Virgili testified. But the check never arrived, she said.

In April 2009, Virgili said, she wrote to the district attorney “because we suspected we were not the only ones these things were happening to.”

A network of Ryan’s former customers began comparing notes and agreed to testify in court, Virgili said, which ultimately led to an investigation and the filing of charges.

Homeless man asked to sign as CEO

Keith Wayne, a homeless man living west of town, also testified for the prosecution Monday. He said that in 2010 Ryan borrowed his name and Social Security number and promised to pay him $1,500 in return but never paid.

Ryan had declared personal and business bankruptcy that year. Wayne said Ryan had hired him for odd jobs when she asked him to masquerade as her CEO. He was listed as a signatory on a bank account opened March 22, 2010, and she asked him to sign some blank checks once, but he never got paid, he said.

“It was just to help her circumvent the bankruptcy difficulty she encountered,” Wayne told the court, and he needed the money.

But the only payment he ever got from Ryan, he said, was $250 for painting her apartment, and that was only half what he had been promised for the job.

When Wayne asked for the $1,500, he said, “That did not go well. She just kind of lost it, and our affiliation ended.”

She asked him to keep their deal secret, he said.

Then he heard about the charges pending against Ryan.

“I knew I could be in trouble,” he said, so he agreed to tell his story to the district attorney.

jcolson@postindependent.com