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Portrait of an alleged scam artist takes shape

Charges against James F. McCarthy of Groveland include larceny and identity theft, as well as operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.
Charges against James F. McCarthy of Groveland include larceny and identity theft, as well as operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.Groveland Police Department

When Groveland contractor James F. McCarthy showed up at Greg Doyle’s lumber company in Andover last year looking to buy building supplies, Doyle was reluctant to work with him because, he told police later, McCarthy owed him money.

But McCarthy told a sad story about how his daughter had died and promised Doyle he had changed his ways. Doyle took him at his word, and decided to do business with McCarthy one more time. It was a decision he now regrets, according to Groveland police.

Doyle, the president of Doyle Lumber Co., is one of more than a dozen people named in police reports who say they were scammed by McCarthy, a 52-year-old self-employed contractor who has worked at sites all over Greater Boston. McCarthy is accused of swindling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients, employees, landlord, former wife, and even his own cancer-stricken daughter, authorities say. He is being held at the Middleton House of Corrections after pleading not guilty to 110 charges ranging from larceny to identity theft, and is due back at Haverhill District Court Aug. 1.

Doyle told police McCarthy wrote him three checks that bounced, and his account was assessed bank fees as a result. When Doyle sent an employee to McCarthy’s home in October 2012 to seek payment, a man fitting McCarthy’s description answered the door and said, “McCarthy does not live here and never did.”


Doyle said he returned to the house with the employee and this time ducked down inside his vehicle while the employee spoke with the man at the door, whom Doyle told police he recognized as McCarthy. Doyle said he overheard the man say: “I told you McCarthy does not live here, he never did, and I am sick of people coming here to try to collect money; get off my property and don’t come back.” At this point, Doyle got out of his vehicle and confronted McCarthy about the debt. But he left without the $41,810 he says McCarthy still owes Doyle Lumber Co. for purchases made between 2008 and 2012, according to a police report about the incident, one of a number of records filed in the case against McCarthy at Haverhill District Court.


The reports also detail a litany of other complaints against McCarthy.

Thomas Sullivan, 54, of West Bridgewater told police McCarthy hired him to work on construction jobs in Woburn and Winchester in October 2011. He said he completed the work with his own tools and equipment, billed McCarthy, and waited to get paid. Sullivan told police that he tried contacting McCarthy and that whenever he made appointments to meet with him, McCarthy would not show up. He said he eventually received a check for $3,200 from McCarthy. The amount was short by a few hundred dollars, which hardly mattered — Sullivan told police he couldn’t cash the check because McCarthy’s account had insufficient funds.

It’s a similar tale told by carpenters and laborers hired by McCarthy to work on homes at other sites. In interviews with the Globe, several workers said they received little or no pay after toiling at his jobs, and were given paychecks that bounced.

McCarthy’s attorney, Scott F. Gleason of Haverhill, did not return a phone call seeking comment. In an interview days before his arrest by Groveland police on July 14, McCarthy acknowledged he was late paying some people who worked for him. McCarthy said he was owed money from several jobs his company had worked on and that “everybody will be paid once we’re paid.”


But employees weren’t the only ones accusing McCarthy of cheating them.

In an interview with the Globe, Leo Martin, a 79-year-old deacon at St. John the Baptist Parish in Peabody, said McCarthy worked on his home as a subcontractor in November 2012. Martin said the project dragged on for months and was marred by poor workmanship.

“I automatically trust people,” said Martin. But McCarthy gave “a continual line of promises that were never fulfilled,” he said.

The contractor’s former wife, Lisette McCarthy of Tewksbury, told police McCarthy owes her $99,000 in back child support and alimony. She also told police that their 17-year-old daughter died from cancer in January 2010, and that while she was sick McCarthy rarely visited her in the hospital but intercepted $5,000 in donations that friends had raised for her — an allegation that Groveland police Deputy Chief Jeffrey T. Gillen called “pretty disturbing.”

Paula Delaflor, a 74-year-old Foxborough resident, rented her vacant gas station at 301 Main St. in Groveland to McCarthy in September 2011. Delaflor later told police that McCarthy based his business and stored equipment there for months without paying rent, and refused to leave. She says McCarthy owes her $18,463 in rent and the costs of storage and attorney fees that she had to pay to have his eviction ordered in February 2012. McCarthy didn’t leave until that May, according to police.


In another report, Sari Brown, a Newton business owner, told police she paid McCarthy $20,000 to renovate her newly leased store in 2011. She said that McCarthy hired his laborers through a Craigslist ad, but that they were not licensed, had never met McCarthy before, and some showed up for work under the influence of alcohol and drugs. And some of the workers harassed her because they were not being paid by McCarthy, according to the report. She said McCarthy provided her with fraudulent insurance documents, and when she fired him, he refused to leave the job. Brown told police McCarthy harassed her so much that she had to hire an investigator and an attorney.

In other police reports filed at Haverhill District Court:

Bala Balachander, 40, of Lexington told police he hired McCarthy in March 2012 and lost $27,500 as a result of shoddy and uncompleted work that McCarthy did while remodeling his home. He also alleges McCarthy took $4,459 from his checking account.

Richard Tan of Winchester said he hired McCarthy to do work on his home last year. In April 2012, Tan planned to travel to Asia, so he paid McCarthy in advance to finish the project, and agreed to let McCarthy use his credit card to buy materials to build a deck. He later discovered that McCarthy used his credit card to make 18 purchases totaling $25,619 without his authorization. McCarthy admitted to making the charges, and wrote Tan a check for $15,790. The check bounced due to insufficient funds.


Bay State Water Works Supply Inc. of Littleton reported that McCarthy made purchases last year and tried to pay with bad checks. The two checks he wrote for $1,026 in August and September of 2012 were from closed accounts.

McCarthy hired a Wayland man to do excavating work in Lunenburg last year and failed to pay him $15,000. In September 2012, McCarthy sent him a check from a TD Bank account for $7,500. The check was no good: The account was closed.

The harbormaster for the city of Haverhill says McCarthy has a boat in the marina and owes $2,661 for six seasons of boat storage, winterizing, and repairs.

The investigation of McCarthy’s alleged scams is ongoing, said Gillen.

“There’s more to come, I believe,” he said. “We are hoping that he is prosecuted and he’s held responsible for each and every victim he’s stolen from.”

While McCarthy told the Globe that he lives in Portsmouth, N.H., Groveland police say that he has lived at his girlfriend’s home in Groveland for the past three years, and that he has used several company names for the business he ran from there. Police say they have responded to the house a number of times because McCarthy’s employees have showed up there looking to collect wages they were owed. That address is where McCarthy was arrested July 14.

At 8:57 that morning, Groveland police Detective Jim Morton saw McCarthy behind the wheel of a 2006 green Toyota Sienna minivan pulling away from the house. According to the police report, McCarthy spotted the cruiser and started backing up into the driveway. Morton said he knew McCarthy’s license had been revoked and he had a warrant for McCarthy’s arrest, so he pulled the cruiser into the driveway. McCarthy got out of the minivan and tried to escape into the house, but Morton said he ordered McCarthy to stop and handcuffed him.

According to Morton’s report, McCarthy said he knew his license was revoked but added: “But Jim, I was only driving to the mailbox at the end of my driveway — I wasn’t driving on the street.”

In addition to the multiple counts on the arrest warrant, McCarthy was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.

It was the 10th time McCarthy had been charged with that offense, police said.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.