Hinsdale Woman Says She Was Scammed On Home Improvement Projects

David Giuliani

HINSDALE, IL — Many suburban residents visit public Facebook pages to get recommendations on specialists in home projects. That's how Megan Richards Martin, a public relations executive in Hinsdale, found someone to do work at her house. And she is sorry she did — she said she was scammed.

Martin was looking for someone to replace her fence, front porch, sidewalk and driveway on Oakwood Terrace. So she sought recommendations on the Hinsdale Area Moms Facebook group. And a person in the group led her to Ed Kavanaugh, an Elmhurst resident.

On April 6, Martin called police about the matter. According to a police report, Martin hired Kavanaugh of Elmhurst-based Goliath Construction in January and gave him $10,000 as a deposit. The company then removed the driveway and front porch. It also laid brick pavers for the front porch, but did not finish the project and never did any work on the fence, the report said.

In early March, Martin gave Kavanaugh another $690 for the permit to pour the driveway, but she later found he had not given the money to the village, according to documents. He blamed the city for a paperwork error and later said he could not work because construction was not considered an "essential" business under the governor's stay-at-home order, the report said. In fact, under the order, construction was deemed essential.

Then Kavanaugh promised he would do the work on April 10 or 11, as long as the permit was approved, according to the police report. Police said in the report that the matter appeared to be civil in nature, not criminal and that Martin would need to file a lawsuit in court to get her money back.

Martin's husband is lawyer Michael Martin. On Thursday, the couple filed a lawsuit alleging the same facts, adding that the little work that was done was "shoddy and unworkmanlike."

Patch contacted a detective who was in charge of the case, but she referred questions to the deputy police chief, Thomas Lillie, who did not return a message for comment.

Kavanaugh has attracted publicity lately in the suburbs. In February, WGN ran a story about how residents have accused him of collecting money but not finishing work. According to the station, a fictitious woman used the Moms of Beverly Facebook group to recommend Kavanaugh to customers. According to the story, the attorney general's office is investigating. The attorney general has not answered Patch's questions about the investigation.

DuPage County records show Ed Kavanaugh is still facing a 2018 charge of theft by deception with intent to deprive in Elmhurst. The theft could have been up to $10,000, according to the records. No trial date has been set.

In many Facebook posts over the last couple years, Ed Kavanaugh's services have been advertised by a Facebook profile listed as "Jessica Munoz." This is the account where Megan Martin learned about Kavanaugh. Jessica's account has no Facebook friends and says, "I am fun-loving and very loyal to my friends and family. I love helping the elderly and animals." The profile only includes pictures of appliances.

The person behind that profile has answered posts on "Moms" pages in the suburbs seeking recommendations on experts in home repair. The person uses the same number and promotes all kinds of services, usually referring to "Edward" but sometimes "Rob." The titles of the companies in Jessica's recommendations differ. And the person often describes Edward or Rob as "very reasonable" or "quick and cheap."

When someone on the Naperville Moms group wanted an electrician, the person behind Jessica's account recommended Edward at All Light and Power. And when a woman sought help building a fireplace, Edward the Mason was suggested — a "local guy" and, of course, "very reasonable."

A variety of other services have been connected to the same phone number — Edward Paint Pros, Deck Pros, Tile Guys, Kitchen Guy, Arana Construction.

In interviews with Patch, Kavanaugh said Martin's account is full of lies, at one point calling her a slur typically used against women. He said Michael Martin emailed him that he was not allowed on their property. Kavanaugh promised to send that document to Patch, but did not.

Megan Martin provided a string of text messages she said she had with Kavanaugh. Over time, he gave a number of reasons why the job was delayed — the bureaucracy in getting permits, a death in the family, snow and ice, and the pandemic. We are not (an) essential business," referring to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's order on the coronavirus pandemic.

After Martin replied that construction was an essential business, Kavanaugh never brought up that issue again. On March 31, he said the driveway would be poured if the weather looked good the next week. Then he claimed he still could not get a permit from the village.

On April 2, Kavanaugh said he would have the driveway paved in the next two days. On April 6, it still was not done. Megan Martin asked him when he would start. He answered, "When we pour the driveway."

She replied, "WHICH IS WHAT DAY? ANSWER THE (expletive) QUESTION?" She Googled his name and found the WGN story, which was published after she hired Kavanaugh. She went to the police.

During one interview, Kavanaugh said his business was not considered essential, so it could not perform its work during the stay-at-home order. But in another conversation, he told Patch he never used the stay-at-home order as a reason to delay the Martins' job. He gave a new reason instead: "One of my workers tested positive for COVID. He caught it from his uncle. So everyone had to be quarantined for 14 days." But Kavanaugh did not give this explanation in his texts with Martin.

In an interview, Kavanaugh said he had no idea who was posting his phone number on Facebook pages, adding, "I didn't go onto Facebook as Jessica Munoz." He said he was not behind those messages, saying he had enough jobs without going on Facebook. "We do work for judges and state's attorneys," he said.

At best, Michael Martin said, Kavanaugh did $1,000 in work, less than a tenth of the more than $10,000 he was paid.

The handwritten contract for the fence, sidewalk and porch stated "10 days to completion." The agreement for the driveway included a payment schedule through March 2.

The Martins said they had a company come in to replace the fence, and it was done in a day and a half.

In the lawsuit, the Martins said Kavanaugh was prohibited as of Jan. 29 from performing or owning a company that performs any type of home repair and remodeling work. This was the result of one or more past guilty pleas related to the Home Repair Act, the lawsuit said.

This article originally appeared on the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Patch