CINCINNATI — Evans Landscaping owner Doug Evans has reported to prison to begin serving his 21-month sentence for minority contracting fraud on Friday.
A jury convicted Evans in December 2018 of using a shell company to win millions in minority and small business demolition contracts from the state and city of Cincinnati. But U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett allowed Evans to delay his prison report date repeatedly due to COVID fears.
Evans, 59, is expected to serve his sentence at Ashland Federal Correctional Institution. This low-security prison in Eastern Kentucky houses 954 inmates, in combination with its adjacent satellite camp.
“There is obviously no way to replace the contributions of our founder and president, who started this business as a teenager in the 1970s and slowly clawed success out of literal dirt, grime and mud – one backbreaking day after another,” said Zachary Peterson, general counsel and chief financial officer of Evans Landscaping.
Evans grew a landscaping empire from a high school job hauling mulch with a pickup truck. He grew so successful that he employed his own teachers during the summer.
At trial, current and former employees testified that the company employs 250, produces $35 million in annual sales, and has multiple divisions.
Peterson said the well-known Newtown company will continue despite Evans’ absence.
“Evans has a great team of employees, many of whom have been with the company for several decades, and is blessed to have loyal customers who continue to support the company,” Peterson said. “It has been and will be business as usual at Evans, and we expect to continue growing.”
After a month-long trial, a jury convicted Evans of creating a phony front company, Ergon, with IT employee Korey Jordan as a figurehead in order to win government jobs during the recession.
The FBI began investigating Evans in late 2013, interviewing 70 people and conducting surveillance on job sites to see if Evans equipment and employees were being used by the supposedly minority owned company.
Agents raided Evans Landscaping locations in Newtown in July 2015. Nearly two years later, a grand jury handed down indictments in the case.
After the verdict, then-U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman told WCPO that this case should be a warning to other business owners who may consider doing something illegal.
“That is part of the goal of this, and any prosecution -- a message of general deterrence,” Glassman said. “Folks who are in a position to cut a corner to gain an unfair advantage should think twice before going down the path of committing fraud.”
In addition to Evans’ 21-month prison term, the judge 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.