MARBLEHEAD — One customer was new to the area. Another was worried about the approach of Superstorm Sandy.
Both hired a company called Landscapes by George to clean their gutters. And unwittingly, they became the latest victims, police say, of a businessman named George Davekos.
Davekos, 60, whose exact address is not known, pleaded not guilty yesterday in Lynn District Court to charges that include criminal harassment, making threats and attempted larceny.
Davekos was put in custody Friday morning in Salem District Court, where he was appearing in another criminal case involving alleged threats to burn down an 89-year-old Danvers woman’s home. His arrest came after weeks of allegedly playing “cat and mouse” with Marblehead police.
Lynn District Court Judge James Lamothe released Davekos yesterday on his own recognizance, with a requirement that he have no contact with either victim in the new cases. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for April 12.
One woman contacted police last fall after she hired the company to clean her gutters for $95. Soon after, she got a bill for $125, though she hadn’t seen any workers at her home, she told police. When she called Davekos, he was “hostile and threatening,” she said, warning her that she “had better pay the full amount.”
That’s when she did some research on the Internet and discovered numerous negative reviews of the business, some of which referred to prior news stories about Davekos.
She went to police. Patrolman Eric Osattin decided to look for himself to see whether the work was done and discovered that the gutters were still filled with dried leaves and dirt.
He also noticed that the invoice had the same phone number as another notorious business, Apollo Oil. That is one of several names the Davekos family has used for their heating oil service. It also goes by Admiral Oil and Astrofuel and was the subject of two separate actions by the attorney general over deceptive business practices, including fraudulent liens on property owners.
Davekos ignored calls from the police but continued to press the woman for payment, threatening to report her to the Department of Revenue and to credit bureaus, she said.
Osattin also said that Davekos told a police dispatcher that he would be paid “no matter what.”
A second woman told police that she also hired Landscapes by George to clean her gutters before the hurricane in September. But she also got billed for an additional $125 “fall cleanup” that she never requested and that was apparently never done.
When she complained, Davekos allegedly told her he would bring all of the trash that he claimed to have picked up and dump it on her lawn.
He made the same threat again after learning she had gone to police, telling her, “I’m not intimidated by your threats of the police,” according to the police report.
Davekos was once convicted of running down a deputy sheriff who was trying to serve him with court papers in 2000 in Salem.
Marblehead police say Davekos has used at least two aliases, including the name G. Peter Davekos.
He has also claimed a number of different addresses. Police say his driver’s license shows that he lives at 37 Robert Road in Marblehead, which is the same address used by the family oil business. Court papers indicate a Melrose address, and yesterday his lawyer told the court that Davekos is living at 57 Copeland Road in Lynn.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.