SALEM — His story touched the older women who lived in the upscale condo complex in downtown Salem.
To the mostly elderly residents of The Essex on Church Street, James Medaglia, 40, of Medford, was a struggling single dad working as a maintenance man for the condo’s property management company, Crowninshield Management, residents said.
At least 11 of them agreed to hire Medaglia for “side jobs” working inside their units, paying him anywhere from $80 to $150.
One woman even agreed to sell him her car, allowing him to pay in installments of $200 a month and handing over the title. She received just $260.
Another, 63 years old, accidentally post-dated a check to Medaglia. He allegedly called and yelled at her, demanding a new check, then cashed both.
And then they began to notice that their jewelry was disappearing.
Salem police now estimate that “tens of thousands of dollars” worth of jewelry, some of it family heirlooms, were pawned by Medaglia, as far back as January, shortly after he was hired, according to a police report.
Yesterday, many of the women were in Salem District Court as Medaglia appeared for a pre-trial hearing in his case.
He was arrested earlier this month on a warrant charging him with felony larceny by single scheme, larceny by check and larceny by false pretense, as well as receiving stolen property.
Medaglia has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but during yesterday’s hearing, his attorney, Neil Hourihan, suggested that he had been in discussions with the district attorney to resolve the case short of trial.
A prosecutor, meanwhile, told the judge that police are working on filing additional charges in the case.
Salem police began receiving reports in August from residents reporting that jewelry was missing from their units.
They suspected Medaglia — who, it turns out, had just been fired by Crowninshield, not for theft but for doing the side jobs on company time he was supposed to be spending working in common areas.