Contractor facing 81 more charges of swindling and fraud

James F. McCarthy

Groveland police department

James F. McCarthy

A 53-year-old Groveland contractor accused of swindling hundreds of thousands of dollars from property and business owners all over Eastern Massachusetts is due back in court Friday to face new charges of fraud and identity theft.

James F. McCarthy was recently indicted on 81 counts of various fraud, identity theft, and larceny charges, according to Carrie Kimball Monahan,spokeswoman for the Essex district attorney’s office.

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The Feb. 13 indictment is the latest development in the growing criminal case against McCarthy, who has worked in construction for years and run several businesses under different names and aliases, according to police. McCarthy was arrested last summer on larceny and fraud charges, and authorities say that when he was released on bail, he went back to his old ways to land additional construction jobs in Newburyport, Salem, Stoneham, and Wenham. According to police, McCarthy used false identities, formed new shell companies, lied about being licensed and having insurance, and provided forged documents to get the jobs.

Scott F. Gleason, a Haverhill lawyer who represented McCarthy in the earlier court proceedings, could not be reached for comment.

Police reports filed in Salem District Court and Haverhill District Court indicate McCarthy has left a long trail of broken promises, bounced checks, and unfinished projectsin his wake. Among his alleged victims are homeowners who hired him, companies who did business with him, and employees who agreed to work for him.

Last year, carpenters and laborers who were hired by McCarthy through Craigslist to build homes at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station said they received little or no pay for their work. A Foxborough woman reported to police how McCarthy agreed to rent commercial space from her in 2011, failed to pay his rent, and then refused to leave the property for months after he was evicted. A Newton businesswoman told police how McCarthy botched a renovation project at her store. The owner of an Andover lumber company reported that McCarthy purchased building supplies and never paid for them, as his checks bounced.

Last summer, McCarthy was arrested in Groveland and arraigned in Haverhill District Courton 110 criminal charges including larceny, identity fraud, and home improvement contractor violations. McCarthy pleaded not guilty to the charges and was held on $10,000 bail, which waslater reduced to $7,500.

Wide-ranging charges

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According to court documents, McCarthy’s bail was posted Aug. 30. A few weeks later, authorities say, he posed as a contractor named “William Mitchell” and formed a company in New Hampshire called Blue Whale Contracting LLC at 1950 Lafayette Road in Portmouth, N.H. Soon after that, he was hired by Simple Home Solutions of Methuen to work on two properties in Salem and Wenham. The owners of Simple Home Solutions grew suspicious when they found issues with the work being done. When they saw McCarthy’s photo that appeared in the Globe with a report of his arrest last summer, they recognized him as the man purporting to be Mitchell. They contend that McCarthy defrauded them of approximately $20,000 due to work that was never finished, or work that was so shoddy that it had to be redone. They also told police that McCarthy didn’t pay for the dumpster he was using at their work site.

On Oct. 27, 2013, authorities say, McCarthy posed as “Jeff Schwartz” and formed an entity in New Hampshire called “Pegasus Construction LLC” at 1950 Lafayette Road in Portmouth, N.H. In December, Pegasus began doing work for HR Ventures LLC on a rehab project in Stoneham, until the owners grew suspicious when he could not produce the certificate of insurance that they had requested. In documents filed in court, authorities say that McCarthy posed as Jeff Schwartz when he purchased supplies at Middleton Building Supply in December, and that he used false information to apply for a credit account there.

Last month, McCarthy was arraigned in Salem District Court on charges related to these activities. The caseis now being moved up to Superior Court, which means McCarthy, if convicted, could face time in a state prison instead of a county facility and a potentially lengthier sentence, according to the Essex district attorney’s office.

Kimball Monahan said there is some overlap and “we consolidated some of the charges.” McCarthy is being held at the Middleton House of Correction and is scheduled to be arraigned at Essex Superior Court in Salem. The counts in the lower courts will be dismissed once McCarthy is arraigned in Superior Court, she said.

The case against McCarthy has been investigated by Detective James Morton of the Groveland Police Department, Trooper Brandon Arakelian of the State Police, Detective Charlene Sano of the Salem Police Department, and James Carney of the Essex district attorney’s computer crimes unit.

Morton, who first began investigating McCarthy in October 2012 and arrested him last summer, also credited Philip Mallard in the Essex prosecutor’s office and other fellow investigators.

“It was a classic case where departments worked together for a good cause,” Morton said.

“Perseverance finally paid off. The victims really needed to be heard, and somebody had to be in their corner for all of them.”

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