Roofer hacking case in Basalt ends with whimper |

Roofer hacking case in Basalt ends with whimper

A former employee of a Basalt roofing company initially charged with a computer crime felony on par with second-degree murder pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor charge for hacking into a competitor’s files last year in search of competing bids.

And that was on top of similar felony charges being dismissed this summer against the man’s boss and owner of the roofing company he worked for.

“The initial investigation indicated there was access to millions of dollars of (roof) contracting estimates,” Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham said Friday. “He was initially charged based on that.”

Subsequent investigation by detectives from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office showed that, while Red Eagle Roofing in Basalt did illegally access files belonging to Umbrella Roofing of Basalt, Red Eagle did not take any bids away from Umbrella using information it accessed, he said.

In other words, Richard Acerra — the former Red Eagle Roofing employee — was guilty of misdemeanor computer crimes, which he pleaded no contest to Friday in Pitkin County District Court, Nottingham said.

Investigators combed through 5,000 pages of discovery in the case and a spreadsheet with 14,000 lines in parsing out what actually happened, he said.

District Judge Chris Seldin sentenced Acerra, 52, to one year of unsupervised probation Friday and dismissed the remaining charges against him, according to court records.

The District Attorney’s Office dismissed its case in June against Acerra’s boss, Gregg Mackey, the owner of Red Eagle Roofing. At that time, Nottingham said there wasn’t enough evidence linking Mackey to the computer hacking.

Mackey’s lawyer said at the time that his client did not know about the hacking and fired Acerra as soon as he heard about it.

Acerra, however, said from the beginning that Mackey directed him to hack Umbrella’s bids, including in a brief phone call to The Aspen Times after the case was initially filed in December.

“That direction (to hack the bids) came from the owner, Gregg Mackey,” Acerra said at the time. “Gregg was fully aware of everything. I’m being railroaded — you can print that.”

Nottingham on Friday pointed out that Acerra had little to gain from hacking Red Eagle’s competitor and there was no evidence he was ever rewarded for his actions.

“His stance all along was that he was told to do it by his boss,” Nottingham said.

A message left Friday for Acerra’s lawyer, Chip McCrory, seeking comment was not returned.