Landscaper with shady history accused of ripping off Village of LaBelle couple for $8,000

Michael James McGowan
Michael James McGowan

A landscaper already well known to Seniors vs. Crime in The Villages, is facing felony charges of fraud and larceny after reportedly taking $8,000 from a Village of LaBelle couple for work never performed.

Michael James McGowan, 40, of Belleview, who runs MJM Landscape and Hardscape, on Nov. 17 entered into a contract with the couple for a $10,000 landscaping project at their home on Anchorage Road, according to an arrest report from the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office. They wrote him a $4,000 check that day and a second $4,000 check on Nov. 25. After receiving the second check, his crew then raked pine needles, pulled up several shrubs, and dumped a load of sand, spending about 45 minutes at the residence before leaving.

He cashed each check on the same day they were written at the Citizens First Bank branch at Pinellas Plaza.

The couple never saw him again.

They left multiple voicemails which were never returned.

In February 2017, they initiated the Theft by Abandonment process, complying with all statutory requirements. They sent certified notice to the address on the contract provided by McGowan, but the notice was returned unopened.

In an interview last week at the sheriff’s office, he admitted he had taken the couple’s money and not performed the work.

There have been 26 complaints filed against McGowan with Seniors vs. Crime.

He is free on $4,000 bond.

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