WAUSAU — Two suspects are due in court later this month to face theft accusations in an alleged driveway paving scheme.

James Johnathan Swartz
James Johnathan Swartz

Police say James Johnathan Swartz, 36, of New Lisbon, and Richard P. Harris, 32, of Tomah, persuaded an elderly Edgar man to hire them to coat his driveway without a state-required contract and charged the man twice what the job should have cost. Both men are facing charges of theft by false representation with special facts.

A Marathon County Sheriff’s deputy identified Swartz and Harris following a traffic stop, but police were forced to let them go before an investigation could be completed. Warrants are out for the arrest of both men, who are due in Marathon County Circuit Court July 20 for an initial appearance on those theft charges.

The two could have been using the business name “Cuzzin’ Jim’s Hot Mix Asphalt Paving,” police said, based on a pamphlet that was found in their possession during the traffic stop.

Edgar Police Chief Jeanette Stankowski said the duo first came to her attention more than a year ago, after allegations surfaced that they defrauded another area man by grinding up recycled blacktop, placing it through a paving machine, rolling it onto a driveway and passing the job off as a legitimate blacktop job.

Both men have a long history of drug and other convictions, according to online court records. Swartz sometimes uses an alias, going by the names Brandon Lee Goodwin, JimmyJon Swartz and Vincent S. Williams, court records show.

Richard P. Harris
Richard P. Harris

Stankowski said driveway scams are common this time of year, and fraudsters typically tend to prey on the elderly.

What you should know: Six asphalt paving scam warning signs

  1. Claiming they have leftover asphalt from another job: Professional asphalt contractors will know, with great accuracy, how much paving material is needed to complete a project. Rarely will they have leftover material. Some of the reasons a contractor might have left over material are due to weather, equipment problems, or cancellations, but that should be rare.
  2. Push you to make a quick decision: Reputable contractors will provide a written estimate that will be valid for weeks or months. If the great deal they are offering you today is not available tomorrow or next week, it may be a scam.
  3. No contract offered: Insist upon a written contract specifying in detail the work to be performed and the agreed upon price.
  4. Cash only sales: Most reputable contractors take checks or credit cards and do not require cash-only terms.
  5. Deals that seem to be good to be true: If the quoted price seems very low, chances are the quality of the work will be low as well.
  6. Unmarked truck: Often the trucks scam artists travel in are unmarked or they have an out of town address and phone number. A little research will likely reveal that they have no permanent address and the phone number is often an answering machine.

If you suspect you or someone you love is the victim of such fraud, call your local police department.

3 replies on “Two charged in alleged driveway paving scam”

  1. This is James Swartz an the man I done work for was not old we spoke I told him how much it would be he went inside his home came back out an told me if I could do it for $450 to go ahead an seal it. I’m pretty sure u can do a job same day if it’s under a certain price with no contact do u need one to cut grass…. But the best part is this same cop has harassed me an my dad for 3 years..
    An he stopped at the job I did an told the people I was a scammer I live in Wisconsin do good work an give everyone a price before I start my work.

  2. I agree with James Swartz the police are always trying to stir the pot against people because they know that there lively hood depends on making bogus cases against people. That’s how they keep there jobs if they never arrest anyone or never give anyone tickets the county has no use for them and they will be laid off cheer up James fight the case and put that crooked cop ? out of job because honestly that’s what he deserves

  3. I know james very well he was like a big brother to me win i was a young man all ways was a good and far business man because i seen him in action for years and he thought me a lot of things that i use all the time in business the man is just trying to make a living the law needs 2 leve him be

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