CINCINNATI — Days before Evans Landscaping owner Doug Evans was to begin serving a 21-month sentence for minority contracting fraud, a federal judge delayed his report date for the third time and may allow him to skip prison altogether.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett, who presided over Evans' month-long trial in 2018, granted an emergency motion on July 2 giving Evans a three-month delay on his prison report date from July 7 to October 7.
This is the second time Barrett has delayed the prison report date because Evans’ attorney, Ben Dusing, insisted his client's poor health would put him at risk of contracting COVID-19 while in prison.
Now Dusing is asking the judge to take prison off the table altogether and allow the high-profile Newtown entrepreneur to serve his sentence through home confinement.
“He is a first-time, non-violent offender. He does not request a reduction of the time of the home confinement, but simply that he not be exposed to such extreme danger the (prison) poses to him during this pandemic,” Dusing wrote in a July 1 motion.
Evans faces “serious illness or death if placed in (prison) custody,” Dusing wrote because of his advanced age at 58, obesity, hypertension, prediabetes, sleep apnea and the removal of his spleen years earlier.
“Evans had his spleen surgically removed because of a medical condition known as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. The lack of a spleen leaves a patient like Evans immunocompromised for the rest of his life,” Dusing wrote.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Mangan agreed to delay Evans’ report date, but opposes home confinement.
Barrett will decide the issue later this summer. Attorneys have until Aug. 24 to file their objections and responses.
A jury in December 2018 found Evans guilty of using a shell company to win millions in public demolition work that had been set aside for minority and small business contractors.
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.
"It is worth reminding the court that the letters in the name 'Ergon' could be rearranged to form the word 'Negro,'" Mangan wrote in a sentencing memorandum. "One witness testified that Doug Evans thought the use of that term for Ergon was hilarious ... The word 'Negro' was written in handwriting at the top of an invoice that was found on a table in Doug Evans' office during the search."
Federal prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Evans to 63 months in prison.
Instead Barrett sentenced Evans to 21 months in January but granted him a three-month delay in reporting to prison in April. That date was pushed back to July and then to October.
In the meantime, Evans appealed his conviction to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.