, Salem, MA

Local News

January 18, 2014

DA: Builder used false ID

Unlicensed contractor got paid but didn't do the work, prosecutors say

SALEM — When newspapers ran stories last summer detailing numerous criminal allegations against an unlicensed home improvement contractor, James McCarthy didn’t let the bad publicity stop him, prosecutors say.

Instead, McCarthy became William “Bill” Mitchell, the owner of a company called Blue Whale Construction. And when the heat started coming down on “Mitchell,” he became Jeff Schwartz, owner of Pegasus Construction, prosecutors say.

Now McCarthy, who lists addresses in Groveland and Boxford, is behind bars, held both on $250,000 cash bail and the 60-day revocation of his bail in six pending cases from last summer, when he was first charged — and first gained notoriety through stories in the Eagle-Tribune and the Boston Globe.

State police and the district attorney’s office executed a search warrant at the Boxford address, 181 Topsfield Road, yesterday morning and arrested McCarthy.

They believe that in the six months since he was first charged in Haverhill District Court, he has accepted more than $100,000 in checks for work that was not done.

He is facing new charges that include larceny by false pretense, felony larceny and violating the state’s home improvement contractor law.

He made two court appearances yesterday, the first in Newburyport District Court, where, over the objection of prosecutors, he was released by Judge Allen Swan.

But when McCarthy and his attorney, Sean Gleason, showed up at Salem District Court yesterday afternoon, Judge Matthew Machera came to a different conclusion, granting prosecutor Phil Mallard’s request for high bail. McCarthy was put into handcuffs in the courtroom.

Prosecutors say McCarthy, who turns 53 today, possessed no license to work as a home improvement contractor, and no license to operate heavy equipment, as he also allegedly did.

Instead, they say, he forged insurance certificates, stole information about legitimate contractors (including the real Bill Mitchell and Jeff Schwartz, who are licensed contractors who do not know McCarthy) and made up addresses for his latest businesses.

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