Evans Landscaping is currently installing the water fountain on the southwest corner of the Highland County Courthouse property. (HCP photo)
Evans Landscaping is currently installing the water fountain on the southwest corner of the Highland County Courthouse property. (HCP photo)

Evans Landscaping owner Doug Evans was sentenced to prison Tuesday, according to a WCPO report, after being found guilty in December 2018 of six fraud-related charges.

According to Paula Christian of WCPO, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett "sentenced Evans Landscaping owner Doug Evans to 21 months in prison" during a hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Christian reported that the state “had asked U.S. District Court Judge Michael Barrett to sentence Evans to 63 months in prison, ban the company from doing any public work for three years, seize two dump trucks used in the scheme and collect a $750,000 combined fine."

According to WLWT, Evans was ordered to pay "a $25,000 fine and a $25,000 donation to support disenfranchised people."

Christian reported that “Evans Landscaping vice president of operations, Jim Bailey … will be sentenced on Jan. 10.” As previously reported, Bailey was also found guilty of six fraud-related charges.

To read Christian’s article, go to: https://www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/i-team/judge-doug-evans-sentenced-to-21-months-in-prison.

As previously reported in The Highland County Press (with information courtesy of the Southern District of Ohio), a federal grand jury in May 2017 returned an indictment charging the owner of Evans Landscaping, Inc., Doug Evans of Cincinnati and the vice president of operations for Evans Landscaping, Jim Bailey, of Cincinnati, with charges related to allegedly defrauding the City of Cincinnati and other public entities through fraudulent small business and minority business contracts. Specifically, both men were charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud, along with one count of misprision of a felony.

Evans Landscaping is an Ohio company headquartered in Cincinnati that performs demolition, site-work, grading, hauling, recycling and landscaping services. Given the size and ownership of the company, Evans Landscaping did not qualify as a small business enterprise (SBE), a minority business enterprise (MBE) or as economically disadvantaged under local and state government programs.

In order to qualify for the City of Cincinnati’s SBE program, a company must be independently controlled, operated and managed by a qualifying individual whose net worth does not exceed certain limits. The program also requires that the company be directly responsible for providing the supplies or services to the city without relying upon others who are not owners or employees of the company.

Similarly, the State of Ohio has established an Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity program (EDGE) for economically disadvantaged businesses that are at least 51-percent owned and controlled by an economically disadvantaged person. The size of the business must not exceed the definition of a “small business.” The state also has a program for certifying minority business enterprises (MBE) that requires the owner to have actual control of the day-to-day operations of the company.

In 2008, the defendants (along with others) allegedly established, controlled and operated a demolition company, Ergon Site Construction, LLC, for the benefit of Evans Landscaping. Ergon’s president and owner, Korey Jordan, is an African-American male who had no prior experience in the field but provided IT services for Evans Landscaping. It was alleged that Ergon (with the help of the co-conspirators) fraudulently obtained certifications as an SBE, MBE and EDGE contractor while concealing Evans Landscaping’s involvement in and control over Ergon.

The indictment alleged that Evans and Evans Landscaping provided at least $85,000 in startup and early operational funds to Ergon and that Jordan did not make any capital contributions to the establishment of the company.

Evans Landscaping personnel allegedly prepared and filed the legal documentation to register Ergon as an LLC in April 2010, created the company’s name and logo, ordered Ergon apparel and bought equipment labels with Ergon’s logo.

Jordan allegedly performed little work for Ergon and had little, if any, actual control over Ergon’s management, finances and operations. He was not permitted to make certain decisions or take certain actions without Doug Evans’ approval.

From 2011 through 2014, Ergon bid on and received more than 100 residential demolition contracts, totaling approximately $1.9 million, with the City of Cincinnati by leveraging Ergon’s fraudulent SBE status.

The city of Hillsboro has used – and continues to use – Evans Landscaping for multiple projects. The company is currently installing the water fountain on the southwest corner of the Highland County Courthouse property.