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Roofers accused of selling cocaine on the side

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By The Staff

By CINDY SIMPSON

rccindysimpson@bellsouth.net

A Harriman couple who owns a roofing company in the downtown area has been charged with multiple counts of the sale of cocaine.

A Roane County grand jury handed down an indictment last week on Laura Pierce and her husband James E. Pierce, of 474 Emory River Road, for several counts of the sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine.

The indictment charges Laura Pierce, 50, on seven counts, while 49-year-old James Pierce is charged with two counts.

According to the true bill, the couple made several sales starting in July 2006 and running into early October 2006.

The true bill stated that Laura Pierce sometimes sold alone, while both Pierces are listed together on only the second and fifth counts cited by the indictment.

Narcotics investigators Jason Joseph of the Harriman Police Department and Jason Mynatt of the Roane County Sheriff’s Office began the investigation on the couple in 2006, according to Harriman Police Chief Randy Heidle.

The Pierces operated Pierce Roofing on Roane Street in downtown Harriman.

They often operated their side business while on roofing jobs, without the knowledge of the homeowners who had hired them to work on their roofs, Heidle said.

“They were actually doing transactions at their (the homeowners’) home,” Heidle said.

The police chief said buyers would stop by different work sites throughout Roane County to make purchases from the couple.

In 2006, controlled buys were made from the couple while they worked on roofing jobs, according to Heidle.

The time it took between that and the case going to grand jury was spent firming up the case.

“We were just trying to build a strong case on them,” Heidle said.

A search warrant of the couple’s business was issued in February 2007.

Inside the business, police found about 2.5 grams of cocaine and processing tools, which are used to split up the drug for resale.

Police were unsure at presstime Friday whether Pierce Roofing is still operating downtown.

Both Pierces were brought in Thursday to the Roane County Jail. They were released shortly afterward on bail bonds at $3,000 each.

The Pierces are scheduled to be arraigned today, Monday, in Roane County Criminal Court.