Doug Evans leaves prison after serving six months of 21-month sentence for minority contracting fraud

Doug Evans returned to Cincinnati on Dec. 2
Doug Evans at his federal court sentencing for minority contracting fraud in 2020.
Posted at 4:53 PM, Dec 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 15:38:41-05

CINCINNATI — Federal prisons officials released Evans Landscaping owner Doug Evans from Ashland Federal Correctional Institution and sent him back to Cincinnati on Dec. 2 after he served six months of his 21-month sentence for minority contracting fraud.

A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said Evans is now being overseen by its Cincinnati residential reentry management office, where he is either at a halfway house or in home confinement.

“For privacy, safety, and security reasons we do not discuss any individual inmate’s conditions of confinement, reason for transfer, or specific release plans,” Bureau of Prisons spokesman Donald Murphy wrote in a response to WCPO’s questions. “Mr. Evans’ projected release date from custody is November 29, 2022 via good-conduct time release.”

As of August, the Bureau of Prisons has transferred more than 30,000 eligible inmates to home confinement in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This comes under the emergency authority exercised by the U.S. Attorney General’s office through the CARES Act to stop the spread of COVID in prisons.

Meanwhile, former Cincinnati City Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard, who reported to prison three days before Evans on June 1 to serve an 18-month sentence for public corruption, is still at a federal prison camp in Alderson, WV, according to the Bureau of Prison’s website.

It is unknown whether Dennard may be a candidate for home confinement due to COVID and transferred back to Cincinnati.

Neither Dennard’s attorney, Stephanie Kessler, nor Evans’ attorney, Ben Dusing, would comment for this story. Evans also did not respond to a request for comment.

Evans, 59, received the COVID-19 vaccine before reporting to the low-security prison in Eastern Kentucky, which houses 1,263 inmates, in combination with its adjacent satellite camp.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett had delayed Evans’ report date to prison several times due to Evans’ health concerns over COVID-19.

Barrett presided over Evans' month-long trial, which ended when a jury found him guilty in December 2018 of using a shell company to win millions in demolition contracts from the city of Cincinnati and the state of Ohio during the recession.

Evans insisted throughout his trial he was innocent, but the jury convicted him of creating a shell company — Ergon Site Construction — in 2008, hoping to win millions in minority demolition jobs from the state and the city of Cincinnati amid a deepening recession.

“I think the criminal conduct at the heart of this case really deprives a lot of people of a fair shake,” then-U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman said after the verdict. “It harms every other business out there that is trying to play by the rules.”

The FBI spent nearly four years investigating Evans before his arrest in 2017. Prosecutors had asked the judge to send him to prison for up to five years. And the government hoped his prison time would serve as a warning to other business owners.

“The theory is that the best way to deter is to make somebody who got caught and convicted pay a dear price,” former federal prosecutor Ralph Kohnen said in a January 2020 interview.

A jury convicted Evans and his vice president of operations Jim Bailey of three counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Barrett sentenced Bailey to six months of home confinement, three years of probation and 200 hours of community service.

But the judge ended Bailey’s probation 14 months early – on Dec. 2 – which is the same day Evans was transferred out of prison and back to Cincinnati.

“Jim’s term of probation has not been easy for several reasons, many of which stem from the COVID-19 pandemic. As this court can imagine, the pandemic hit at a pretty difficult time for Evans Landscaping. With Doug Evans in prison, Jim has had to take on many additional responsibilities with the company,” Bailey’s attorney, Eric Eckes, wrote in his motion to end probation early.

Bailey paid $20,500 in fines and completed over 300 hours of community service with Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services and the Housing Network of Hamilton County. He installed a handicap-accessible garden and landscaping for a newly built four-unit family home to provide independent living for young adults with intellectual disabilities.

“First, Evans Landscaping was not eligible for COVID-19 relief due to the fraud convictions. Thus the company and its employees successfully navigated the first year of the pandemic without the government assistance that many other companies (including Evans’ competitors) took advantage of,” Eckes wrote. “Second, the company had a very difficult time obtaining liability insurance and must now pay far more for coverage. Again, none of this is offered so that anyone, much less this court, feel sorry for Jim.”

As part of Evans’ punishment, Barrett ordered him to pay $50,000 and the company to pay $500,000, half of which will be set aside as community service payments to help minority businesses.

Five former and current Evans Landscaping employees were also convicted in the scheme.

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