CINCINNATI -- Three former employees of Evans Landscaping, a local construction business accused of creating a fake company to land public contracts meant for minority-owned firms, pleaded guilty Monday to federal fraud charges.
According to a news release from the office of United States Attorney Benjamin Glassman, former Evans Landscaping CFO Maurice Patterson and manager Michael Moeller conspired with others to create the fake company, Ergon Site Construction LLC, and used it as a front to obtain nearly $2 million in public demolition contracts between 2008-'14.
Both Patterson and Moeller pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which could earn them each 20 years in prison.
The release also stated that John Dietrich, another former CFO, learned about the conspiracy in 2013 and helped the others hide it. He pleaded guilty to misprision (concealment) of a felony and could be sentenced to three years in prison.
All three agreed in June to testify against Doug Evans, Evans Landscaping's founder and the man accused of orchestrating Ergon's deception, when his case goes to trial.
Korey Jordan, the black Evans Landscaping employee who prosecutors say served as Ergon's figurehead, will also testify against Evans. According to Glassman, Jordan was a largely ornamental figure whose presence allowed Evans to dispatch his own vehicles and employees to Ergon-assigned jobs.
Jordan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud in June.
Evans himself faces charges that could cumulatively net him a century in prison. His lawyer, Ben Dusing, argued in June that Ergon had not been a front. According to him, Evans Landscaping's involvement in the company came from its founder's desire to "do a nice thing" by jump-starting Ergon and sharing his own business acumen with Jordan.
Dusing predicted Evans would stand trial later in the year. For now, he continues to work at Evans Landscaping's offices in Newtown.