A subcontractor who worked on homes being built at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station is being investigated for allegedly failing to pay his employees, police say.
Carpenters and laborers hired by the subcontractor, James F. McCarthy of Groveland, say they toiled on construction sites for little or no pay, and were given paychecks that bounced.
Their complaints are being investigated by authorities, said Groveland police Deputy Chief Jeffrey T. Gillen. Groveland police became involved because McCarthy, 52, once ran his business there. After following up on an initial complaint, Gillen said, the case “continued to grow and grow as we found more victims.”
Gillen said his detectives are now working with the Essex district attorney’s office and State Police to investigate the allegations, which span several jurisdictions. “It’s been a long investigation,” he said, “involving multiple victims and a lot of money.”
A Groveland police detective authorized by his chief to talk about the case said McCarthy has operated businesses under 11 aliases. Gillen said charges are expected to be filed against McCarthy in Haverhill District Court in the near future, adding that he could not discuss details at this point. Meanwhile, state Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office has received a complaint regarding McCarthy and is reviewing the matter, according to a spokesman.
Reached by cellphone, McCarthy acknowledged he was late paying some people who worked for him at SouthField, the development being built at the shuttered air base in Weymouth. His company, MGM Framing, was asked to leave that job early because of issues with workmanship, he said.
“It didn’t meet certain standards,” said McCarthy, who says he now lives in Portsmouth, N.H. He said he is owed money from several jobs his company has worked on.
“There is money owed to us,” said McCarthy. “Everybody will be paid once we’re paid.”
At SouthField, McCarthy said, his company worked on homes in a development he called SouthField Common, but he could not say which of three developers at SouthField was involved in that project.
He said he did not work with John M. Corcoran & Co., the Braintree-based firm that developed The Commons at SouthField Highlands apartment complex. A second developer at SouthField, Canton-based Whitman Homes, could not be reached for comment.
A spokeswoman for the third developer, Interactive Building Group Inc. of Rockland, which is building cottages and town houses at SouthField and had worked for a time with McCarthy’s company, denied the company owes the subcontractor any money.
“IBG does not owe him any money at all,” said Lisa Nickerson, a company spokeswoman. “They’ve worked things out with the subcontractors working under him. They just want to move forward and away from this.”
In the interview, McCarthy said he did not directly manage the SouthField job site, but takes full responsibility for paying his workers.
“It’s not anybody’s fault but mine,” he said. “Everyone will be paid. The buck stops here.”
Kenny Dwyer, a 28-year-old carpenter from Scituate, alleges that McCarthy owes him at least $1,200, after he responded to a help wanted ad on Craigslist on May 2 and was hired by MGM Framing to work at SouthField. In an interview, Dwyer said he started on May 3 and worked 50 hours a week for about four weeks, putting up wooden frames for new homes. He said he was originally told he would be paid $15 an hour, then $12 an hour. He said he was supposed to get paid every two weeks, but he was only paid a total of $100.
McCarthy “keeps saying he’s going to pay me and he’s not. This is crazy,” Dwyer said.
Andrew Bochicchio, a 34-year-old carpenter from Weymouth, said he, too, was hired by McCarthy after answering a Craigslist ad. Bochicchio said he worked five days on a home in Winchester last August and was only paid $300.
According to the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, McCarthy has never held a professional license from the state. As a subcontractor, he would not need a license if he was working with a licensed construction supervisor, the agency said.
Mario Ferreira, a 32-year-old carpenter from Malden, alleges that McCarthy owes him approximately $4,000. In an interview, Ferreira said he still hopes to be paid, although he does not plan to file a formal complaint with the police.
Ferreira said he answered an ad on Craigslist and began working for MGM Framing in February, eventually at several sites. He said he worked at SouthField, at a sober house in Haverhill, and at an East Boston project that was supposed to be featured on the television show “Flipping Boston.” He later discovered his paycheck from MGM Framing was no good, he said.
Ferreira said that after he handed the check to a bank teller, she told him: “Sir, there’s nothing here. You need to speak with your boss.”
Ferreira said whenever McCarthy paid his crew, he wrote them checks from different banks. One week it was Salem Five. Another time, the checks were from Sovereign.
McCarthy acknowledged he may have written checks when his account balances were too low. “We made good on all the checks that bounced,” he said.
But a number of his former workers say they are still owed money.
Ferreira said his last day working for MGM Framing was June 1. As of June 24, he said, he had not received the pay owed to him.
“Everybody’s out money, losing apartments, losing houses, and this guy is still working,” he said of McCarthy. “I don’t understand how this dude is doing this.”