BEVERLY — Felicia Carr laughed as she and her co-workers at Chelsea Morning Produce in Ipswich read the headlines about a North Shore man charged with fraudulently obtaining $661,000 in coronavirus pandemic assistance, then using the money to buy an alpaca farm.
“Based on what I read, I don’t think I’ll be getting my money now,” Carr said.
That money is the $6,036 judgment her business was awarded in Salem District Court last year against Dana McIntyre.
McIntyre had been purchasing food for his restaurant, Rasta Pasta Pizzeria in Beverly, from Chelsea Morning — but, according to the lawsuit, hadn’t been paying. The small claims session magistrate had also issued a type of civil warrant for McIntyre known as a capias, giving Carr the right to have him arrested by a constable and hauled into court.
But before she could do that, “COVID hit,” said Carr.
According to court records, Carr is one of a lengthy list of people holding civil judgments against McIntyre, who over the past 20 years has gone from running home improvement businesses and a company that promised to install “green roofs” — roofs covered in plants — to opening the pizzeria in 2016 to his most recent venture, the Grafton, Vermont, alpaca farm federal prosecutors say he bought with a fraudulently obtained Payroll Protection Program loan.
In addition, state officials have at least twice fined McIntyre for various violations of home improvement contractor regulations — including for holding himself out as a contractor without actually having a license.
Since the early 2000s McIntyre’s businesses have included home improvement, landscaping, chimney sweeping, a company that promoted the installation of plants on roofs, and a sunroom business.
McIntyre, for a period of time in the early 2000s also became the president of the Salem Rotary Club, where he promoted the organization’s campaign to fund surgery for children born with cleft palates and cleft lips in developing countries. He frequently sought out publicity in local newspapers, including The Salem News.
Later, he appeared on the program “Chronicle” to promote his “green roof” business. In more recent years he’d purchased paid airtime on WBOQ, a North Shore radio station, to promote cryptocurrency.
Behind his enthusiasm, however, there were problems.
Two complaints filed with the state’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation in 2015 concern a sunroom business McIntyre operated, which went under several names, including Total Pro, Total Serv Pro, and Four Seasons Factory Direct Sunrooms or FS Sunrooms, according to records obtained by The Salem News under a public records request.
In one case, McIntyre was hired in 2012 by a woman who wanted to enclose a rear walkway and add a sunroom. The woman had paid nearly $20,000 toward the project, most of which came from a state-administered mortgage modification program loan when, in 2014, he stopped performing work. The woman learned through her town’s building inspector that McIntyre did not hold a license.
He was fined a total of $1,100 by the agency — after a hearing officer found that with regard to some of the complaints against him, consumer protections did not apply because he did not hold a license.
The notice of that fine was sent to a Gloucester address, but was returned as undeliverable.
In a second complaint, a hearing officer fined McIntyre $5,000 for multiple violations in his work on what ultimately was supposed to be a $44,517 project. The homeowner had hired him to convert a three-season porch into a four-season room. After several modifications to the plan, the work began. The homeowner said in her complaint to the state that after sending some people to take out the existing doors and windows on the porch, the work stopped and he became difficult to reach. Her efforts to get a refund of the $18,741 she had paid him were fruitless.
The names and communities where the two homeowners live were redacted from the complaints provided by the state.
Some of those who hired McIntyre went to court to try to recoup their money.
Among those who have judgments against McIntyre is a Wellesley homeowner who hired McIntyre’s company to replace windows in his home. He discovered that the wrong type of glass had been used only after a piece of ice fell on it after a snowstorm. The homeowner had to pay someone else to replace all of the windows. After the homeowner, who asked that his name not be used, won a judgment in court against McIntyre, McIntyre filed for bankruptcy, in 2016.
That was the second time he’d filed for bankruptcy.
By that time, McIntyre had already moved on to the restaurant business, listing himself in the bankruptcy filings as an employee of Rasta Foods.
On Thursday, attorneys for McIntyre and one of the three landlords he rented from while running the business were in Lawrence Superior Court in a dispute over unpaid rent and the conditions of the location in the Cornerstone building on Cabot Street.
McIntyre’s attorney in that matter, Jason Stelmack, declined to comment on that case and the prior cases following the hearing.
Filings with the Secretary of State’s office show that the business was incorporated under the name Dana McIntyre, a name he shares with one of his children. After that was dissolved in 2019, according to an affidavit filed in the fraud case, McIntyre created another corporation called Marley’s Pizza Inc., using his son’s name. (During the process of applying for the PPP loan as well as for assistance under another loan program, McIntyre created what prosecutors say were bogus companies in the names of his children. The investigator believes that his children were not aware of their names being used in this way.)
Back in Ipswich, Carr says it was never entirely clear who owned the pizza shop. “He kept dipping and dodging as to who owned Rasta Pasta,” she said. It was “really difficult” to get ahold of McIntyre.
She said she also found it odd that he relocated multiple times, moving from the foot of Rantoul Street to Cabot Street and then, in the midst of a legal dispute with the landlord, moving again to a new location further up Cabot Street.
McIntyre’s lawyer in the federal fraud case, Boston defense attorney Brad Bailey, said he could not address the past business disputes involving McIntyre.
“My focus is on the matter on which I do represent him, about which I will likely be commenting at an appropriate time and place,” Bailey said in an email.
The new allegations, reported around the country with stock images of fuzzy alpacas, drew laughs — but also anger from some, given the fact that the PPP program ran out of funds before every business could get help.
McIntyre was able to obtain the loan through an online financing platform called Kabbage, which has come under scrutiny recently for being one of the largest originators of PPP loans after Bank of America. A ProPublica report this week said many of the recent fraud cases brought by federal prosecutors have involved loans originated by Kabbage prior to its acquisition by American Express.
Carr said as a small-business owner, it was hard work to get a small PPP loan for her business, which has 10 employees. The produce vendor qualified for $38,000, which helped her keep her truck drivers on the payroll when most of her customers either shut down or sharply reduced their orders.
“We were really lucky,” she said. “We have good accountants. There’s no way I could have done it on my own. You have to pull a lot of information together very quickly.”
The program quickly ran through all of its funds and a number of small business owners who qualified for loans couldn’t get them.
McIntyre, meanwhile, claimed a payroll of $265,000 and 47 employees, allowing him to receive $661,000. Investigators say he’d never employed more than 10 people.
“I’m sure a ton of people missed out,” Carr said.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.