James Robert Black, left, and Tyler Maurice Harris

Two Allegan County men indicted on scamming elderly woman

A federal grand jury has indicted two Allegan County men who defrauded an elderly Holland homeowner out of nearly $300,000.

Tyler Maurice Harris, 24, was taken into custody in Otsego on Tuesday, Aug. 13 by a Homeland Security Investigations agent and appeared Wednesday before a federal judge.

James Robert Black (a/k/a “Jim Gribble” and “Victor Valentine”) whereabouts remain unknown.

Black, 55, and Harris are charged together in a conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Harris also faces a separate charge of welfare fraud. The conspiracy charge carries a possible prison term of 20 years. The welfare fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of up to ten years.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the indictment alleges that Black and Harris defrauded an elderly Holland homeowner of $298,000 through a fraudulent home repair scheme. The homeowner hired Black, who went by  the name “Jim Gribble” to do a roof repair. After that, the defendants persuaded the homeowner to pay almost $300,000 for a series of false problems associated with the project, including dangerous working conditions, employee injuries, lawsuits and tax issues.

The investigation into the activities of Black and Harris remains ongoing. Anyone who believes they have dealt with either man and are the victim of fraud should call Homeland Security Investigations at (616) 235-3936 or the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (616) 808-2034. Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Black should call Homeland Security Investigations at (616) 235-3936.

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