CINCINNATI — Evans Landscaping owner Doug Evans may be out of federal prison for his minority contracting fraud conviction, but he now faces a new legal threat – this time from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
The attorney general’s office filed a civil lawsuit against Evans and his holding companies accusing him of open dumping of solid waste and illegal disposal of construction and demolition debris at three facilities in Hamilton County since at least 2014.
Environmental prosecutors filed the civil complaint in March at the request of Hamilton County health officials and are moving toward an August 2022 trial before Common Pleas Judge Jody Luebbers.
“Defendants have been aware of the majority of these violations for over five years and have not corrected them. Since 2014, the Hamilton County General Health District conducted over 20 compliance inspections at the sites, issued 17 notice of violation letters to defendants, and met with defendants on numerous occasions to try to resolve the solid waste and C&DD (construction and demolition debris) violations at their sites. Yet defendants have continued to illegally dispose of C&DD and solid waste at the three sites,” prosecutors wrote in their complaint.
Prosecutors say the illegal dumping occurred at three sites in Anderson Township that are owned by Evans: Evans Gravel on 78 acres on Mt. Carmel Road; 8361 Broadwell Road where several warehouses are located on 36 acres zoned for manufacturing; and 4229 Round Bottom Road where Evans corporate headquarters are located on 90 acres that abuts the Little Miami River, according to court and auditor records.
Evans could be fined up to $10,000 per day for the alleged violations, according to the complaint.
This is the latest in a string of legal troubles for Evans, 59, a hardscrabble entrepreneur who built a landscaping empire from a high school job hauling mulch from a pickup truck. He now employs more than 250.
In 2014, Evans agreed to pay $300,000 in fines to settle a complaint with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency over air pollution violations. He also agreed to a $100,000 tree-planting project to serve as a natural windbreak for dust and emissions from his stonework, gravel and sand operations in Hamilton and Clermont counties.
Then a neighbor filed a complaint with the Ohio EPA against Evans in March 2019, accusing him of spreading “something that looks like construction debris/drywall with chunks of tape,” on a Mt. Carmel Road field. That neighbor “found pieces of drywall tape on the ground after the material has been spread," which was drifting and leaving the site.
The Ohio EPA forwarded that complaint to the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency, which did not immediately respond to WCPO about its resolution.
In an unrelated case, the FBI began investigating Evans in 2013 for minority contracting fraud. Evans insisted that he was innocent, but a jury convicted him in 2018 of using a shell company to win millions in state and government demolition contracts during the recession that were meant for minority and small businesses.
Evans reported to Ashland Federal Correctional Institution on June 4 to begin serving his 21-month sentence for that conviction.
The Bureau of Prisons and sent him back to Cincinnati on Dec. 2 after serving six months behind bars. He is currently either at a local halfway house or under home confinement until November 2022.
Now the attorney general’s office accuses Evans of illegally dumping construction and demolition debris for at least seven years. Prosecutors say some of it is still buried at his Round Bottom, Broadwell and Mt. Carmel Road properties.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost amended complaint against Doug Evans by paula christian on Scribd
Other debris has mysteriously disappeared, according to the complaint.
“Prior to March 7, 2020, large quantities of (construction and demolition debris), in the form of recovered screen material, were piled on the ground at the Round Bottom site,” prosecutors wrote in the complaint.
Using aerial photographs, county health inspectors noticed that the screen material then disappeared from the Round Bottom area by August 2020. They asked Evans employees for receipts to show where they had taken the debris, but say those receipts, “were insufficient to account for the missing (construction and demolition debris.)”
Health officials also saw scrap tires openly dumped on the Round Bottom site during inspections from 2014 through February 2021, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors say the open dumping of solid waste was still on the ground at three Evans locations when they filed the complaint in March.
Yost is asking a judge to ban Evans from accepting any future debris or solid waste, to remove all waste from his property and to lawfully dispose of it. He also wants full access to Evans’ property so that health inspectors and the Ohio EPA can inspect it.
In response to the complaint, Evans denied the allegations in court filings. His attorney Matthew Allen did not respond to a request for comment.