ROCKLAND — A former health agent is facing 22 felony charges in Hingham District Court stemming from claims that she lied about conducting health inspections at local restaurants and submitted false reports to the town.
Janice McCarthy, who was appointed as health agent in 2001, is accused of forging documents and signatures on food establishment inspection reports for at least 11 restaurants, a summons filed by the Rockland Police Department says. She is scheduled to be arraigned in Hingham District Court on Dec. 5.
McCarthy resigned late last month after being confronted in a meeting by town counsel and interim Town Administrator Marcia Birmingham, according to court documents filed Oct. 30.
Since her resignation, the town has appointed four temporary health agents to inspect all restaurants in town. “Substantial progress” has been made, according to a statement from the town. No serious issues have been found in the restaurants.
“Inspection of food establishments is a critical function of our health department, and the failure to perform these inspections represents a serious breach of the public’s faith,” the statement said. “While town officials are disappointed this situation occurred, we hope that it does not reflect negatively on our food establishments.”
Health board clerk Delshaune Flipp first became suspicious of McCarthy’s reports, documents say. Flipp told police that she was working on several public-records requests from citizens concerned about inspections at restaurants, but that McCarthy insisted on handling the records herself.
Flipp said she became more suspicious when a food permit sent to a Burger King contact person was returned as undeliverable. She asked the district manager about two employee names listed on the inspection reports, and was told neither of those people had ever worked at Burger King.
Flipp brought her concerns to Birmingham, who contacted several restaurants and was told inspections were never done, or that the people listed on the report had never signed them.
Birmingham then asked Police Chief John Llewellyn to get involved. He and a detective from the department interviewed employees at restaurants all over town, and concluded that McCarthy had forged inspection reports for at least 11 restaurants, including the Rockland Golf Course, both Burger Kings in town and Rockland Bar and Grill.
The manager of the golf course restaurant told police she didn’t think it had been inspected, and the owner of the Someplace Cafe, which closed this July, told police he didn’t think the restaurant had been inspected since it opened five years ago.
Baking With Joy on Center Avenue and Players Sports Bar on VFW Drive told police McCarthy did inspect their restaurants and that the signatures on her reports were legitimate.
McCarthy’s annual salary was $74,627 as of July 1, according to her employment contract with the town. She also received a car allowance of $250 per month.
As the health agent, McCarthy was responsible for overseeing the health department under the supervision of the elected health board. Her contract was set to expire this December.
“We elected a board of health to do a job and they didn’t do it, and haven’t for years and years,” Selectman Larry Ryan said Monday.
Messages left for all three board of health members and McCarthy were not returned Monday.
Reach Mary Whitfill at firstname.lastname@example.org.