CINCINNATI — Just days before Evans Landscaping owner Doug Evans was to begin serving a 21-month prison sentence for minority contract fraud, a federal judge agreed to a three-month delay out of concern that his poor health could put him at risk for contracting COVID-19.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett, who presided over Evans' month-long trial, granted an emergency motion Wednesday to extend the date that Evans must report to prison from April 7 to July 7.
The motion was filed on Wednesday by Evans' attorney, Ben Dusing. Barrett signed the order hours later.
“Evans’s circumstances make the risks of COVID-19 particularly worrisome,” Dusing wrote. “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 also cited his obesity and pre-diabetes state as health risks.
“If he is incarcerated during this pandemic, he would not have access to his normal treating physicians who are familiar with his medical conditions and medical history," he wrote. "His nearly inevitable infection would be a threat to the other prisoners incarcerated with him as well as the employees at that prison."
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.
In January Barrett sentenced Evans to 21 months but granted him a three-month delay in reporting to prison.
In the meantime, Evans appealed his conviction to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and asked to stay his prison sentence until the appeals process was over.
The appeals court had not ruled on that emergency motion by Wednesday afternoon.