Federal appeals court upholds convictions in Doug Evans, landscaping company fraud case

Doug Evans at his federal court sentencing for minority contracting fraud in 2020.
Posted at 5:47 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 17:54:54-04

CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of local businessman Doug Evans and his landscaping company, Evans Landscaping.

Vipal Patel, the acting U.S. attorney for the southern district of Ohio, announced the ruling in a news release Thursday afternoon.

In January 2020, a federal judge sentenced Evans to 21 months in prison after he and his company were convicted on five counts of wire fraud. Evans had used a shell company to secure government contracts intended for small and minority-owned businesses. Evans Landscaping was ordered to pay $500,000 in fines.

Thursday's ruling was in response to a pretrial motion that asked the court to suppress evidence gathered by the FBI during its investigation of Evans' company. The U.S. District Court initially struck down that motion, and the Sixth Circuit upheld its decision Thursday.

The motion sought to suppress roughly two million documents obtained by federal agents during a 2015 raid of the company's premises. Evans' attorneys argued the raid — which agents conducted on the authority of four separate search warrants — violated his Fourth Amendment rights and that the emails retrieved were hearsay.

The appeals court Thursday upheld an earlier decision that the emails were exempt from hearsay rules because they were considered business records.

Although he was sentenced more than a year ago, the coronavirus pandemic has delayed Evans' imprisonment. As of Thursday, he was scheduled to begin that sentence in April.

Beyond the federal criminal case, Evans' company is the defendant in a current lawsuit out of Union Township, over alleged zoning and land use violations.

Previous reporting by WCPO 9 I-Team reporter Paula Christian contributed to this story.