CINCINNATI — Almost exactly a year after a jury convicted Evans Landscaping owner Doug Evans of minority contracting fraud, a federal judge set a sentencing date of Jan. 7 for the Newtown company and its well-known founder.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett may or may not send Evans to prison. His potential punishment ranges from probation without prison time to as much as five years behind bars.
Also up to Barrett: How large of a fine Evans Landscaping should be asked to pay. The upper limit is $1.25 million.
The judge will sentence Evans and the company before anyone else who was convicted in the scheme.
A jury convicted Evans and his vice president of operations, Jim Bailey, of two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud after a month-long trial ended on Dec. 10, 2018. No sentencing date had been set for Bailey by Monday.
Four former Evans employees pleaded guilty in the scheme. They testified that fraudulent invoices, checks and photos were created to make Ergon Site Construction seem like a legitimate minority-owned business when in fact it was part of Evans. A judge has not set a sentencing date in those cases.
Evans’ attorney, Ben Dusing, has long argued that Evans should not be sent to prison because both city and state governments had all of the contracted demolition projects completed, on time, with zero amount of loss.
“No one really disputes that all the contracted work got done, and at the lowest possible price,” Dusing argued in court.
Prosecutors believe the fraud cost the government $2.86 million — the value of the contracts that Evans received through a shell company set up to win work that should have gone to minority-owned contractors.
Prosecutors accused Evans of creating a front company, Ergon, and using black IT employee Korey Jordan as a figurehead to win millions of dollars in minority and small business demolition jobs from the city of Cincinnati and the state of Ohio.
Jurors took four hours to find Evans, Bailey and the company guilty of six charges related to wire fraud at the end of the month-long trial, which had involved 40 witnesses and hundreds of documents. Prosecutors later dropped the misprison of a felony charge against both men.
At trial, Dusing described Evans as a hard-working man who created a landscaping empire from a humble beginning spreading mulch from a pickup truck as a teenager. Now Evans employs 250 workers, is Newtown’s largest property owner and co-owns Ivy Hills Country Club.
Dusing will show the judge a video during the Jan. 7 sentencing hearing, but nothing in court documents reveals what the video will be about. He must disclose the video to prosecutors by Jan. 3.