Republic furniture maker in jail after probation violation

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WEBSTER COUNTY, Mo. A Greene County man is behind bars for ignoring a judge's orders.

Mark Harris, a local furniture maker, was convicted of scamming his customers in Webster County out of thousands of dollars. He was sentenced to 90 days probation this spring.

Webster County Prosecutor, Ben Berkstresser says, "It was only a matter of time until he was caught doing the exact same thing."

Harris offered his services using the business name Celtic Woodworks online but never delivered. Instead customers say he took off with the money they would pay him for items they would never see.
He was convicted on misdemeanor theft charges in April.

"I just knew that he was going to continue taking advantage of people as long as he could because that's been his life cycle," says Berkstresser.

Harris chose to ignore the rules of his probation and was turned in to authorities by a friend.

Berkstresser says, "We had inside information by somebody who contacted us."

During his probation violation hearing, Harris still maintained his innocence.

"He was indignant. He couldn't believe that he was there. He claimed that he had been set up by my office or by law enforcement. We were out to get him," says Berkstresser.

Once again, Harris tried to sell his custom furniture using fake profiles on social media.

"We were sensitive to the phone call when it came in because he's on our radar, somebody that needs to serve his time if he violates his probation," says Berkstresser. "It wasn't a little violation.
It was exactly what the judge said not to do when he was telling him his sentence. Do not sell any or offer for sale online. He did exactly that."

Investigators spotted Harris in the reflection of a picture of a mirror he posted for sale online.

"I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist but he would be a unique examination. In the face of overwhelming evidence his denial is always absolute, almost convincing except you have the evidence right in front of you," says Berkstresser.

Harris has a list of other theft charges pending in various counties across the Ozarks.

"He'll probably find the places where he's gotten by with it many times before and continue to utilize those areas because of his success," says Berkstresser.

Authorities say he may continue to defraud people online if he isn't convicted on the other charges.

"He's up in the third floor of the Webster County jail right now. Maybe we're changing his mind," explains Berkstresser.

Investigators are hoping more potential victims will come forward as they gather more evidence to file cases against Mark Harris.

Read the original version of this article at www.kspr.com.