Prison Time for Local Builder for Consumer Theft

Haverhill District Court

A Boxford contractor has pleaded guilty in Salem Superior Court to 67 criminal indictments pertaining to contractor fraud, larceny, and other related crimes taking place over the past five years throughout Massachusetts, according to Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office.

Judge Thomas Dreschler last week sentenced James F. McCarthy, 54, of Boxford, to three years to three and a half years in state prison followed by six years of probation, during which the defendant is not to be self-employed or manage any business. The commonwealth had sought a four to six year term in state prison, with ten years of probation to follow that sentence. McCarthy’s crimes were based out of addresses in Essex County and ranged from Essex County to Middlesex and Suffolk Counties and into New Hampshire, a spokesperson said.

“Had the case gone to trial, Essex Assistant District Attorney Philip Mallard would have introduced evidence that McCarthy entered into numerous contracting agreements with homeowners, general contractors, and commercial property owners. While on those projects, he would repeatedly make false statements concerning his licensure and insurance status, make false promises concerning the work and fail to complete projects, and take money for supplies and materials that would not be put toward those purposes. For all of the relevant periods, McCarthy was never licensed or insured in the building trades.”

McCarthy was originally charged in Haverhill District Court with a portion of the crimes for which he pled guilty. When he was released on bail in the summer of 2013 on that case, he began impersonating other contractors and created businesses in their names in New Hampshire to seek new projects as he had been the subject of media coverage. While McCarthy was initially successful in defrauding a number of victims under these false names, other victims discovered that press coverage and the photographs that were published to identify him and mitigate their losses.

During this period on bail, McCarthy’s mother, who was in bankruptcy, inherited a parcel of land in Middlesex County that McCarthy attempted to sell out from under her estate and the bankruptcy court without informing another family member with whom he held the power of attorney. To accomplish the sale, he forged the notarization and signature of his sister on sale documents, and did not inform the bankruptcy court of the property. Based upon evidence gathered during the search warrant, it was believed that the closing on the property was to take place the day that McCarthy was arrested and a search warrant was executed at his Boxford residence.

In his argument on behalf of his sentencing recommendation, ADA Mallard stressed that McCarthy’s intent to steal was demonstrated by the sheer number of victims and repeated pattern of conduct, in forging documents, uttering false checks, and even going so far as to forge the signature of his sister to enrich himself. McCarthy was able to continue his crimes “because,” as Mallard argued, “so long as he showed up on the jobsite and started the project, the victims were told by authorities that it was a civil matter, leaving them with nowhere to turn. Only when this case was investigated in its full scope did the treacherous pattern of fraud emerge.” Part of the evidence gathered in the case included a video of McCarthy operating an excavator and recklessly destroying the chimney of a neighboring property, Mallard argued that the video “crystallized the fraud at issue in this case,” because for the project depicted in the video, “[the] defendant was known as ‘Bill Mitchell,’ under a fake company he made in New Hampshire in that stolen identity, was not licensed to do that type of work, or operate that type of machinery, had presented fraudulently obtained insurance binders, and caused the general contractor to incur the costs of repairing the destroyed chimney and roof.”

ADA Mallard commended the work of Groveland Police Detective James Morton, Salem Police Detective Charlene Sano, and Sergeant Brandon Arakelian of the Massachusetts State Police who investigated the case, and Essex Victim Witness Advocate Kathleen Draper. The defendant was represented by Attorney Patrick Regan.