Logo of Loveland, Ohio, Evans Landscaping
By Dan Yount
The Cincinnati Herald
Evans Landscaping owner Doug Evans was sentenced January 7 following his conviction in a minority contracting fraud case.
U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett ordered Evans to serve 21 months in prison and three years of probation. Evans must also pay a $50,000 fine, and his company must pay a $500,000 fine.
Half the money will be donated to minority companies.
Prior to the January 7 sentencing, federal prosecutors were calling for the judge to sentence Evans to 63 months in prison and ban the company from doing any public work for three years, court records show. They also wanted to seize two dump trucks and see Evans and his Loveland, Ohio, based company pay a combined fine of $750,000.
Eric Kearney, president and CEO of the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky African American Chamber of Commerce, on the sentencing of Doug Evans:
“We at the African American Chamber of Commerce are gratified to see that Doug Evans, the owner of Evans Landscaping, will be held accountable for his role in a years-long plot to win minority contracts through a fake company that, on the surface, looked to be minority-owned but in fact was owned by Evans himself.
“There are many reputable, qualified minority-owned companies in Greater Cincinnati who now will have an equal opportunity to earn these contracts that they might not otherwise have received because of Evans’ scheme.
“The judge’s sentence sends a clear and undeniable message that minority business owners will not be undermined by the greed and hubris of one businessman looking to work the system in his favor. We applaud the decision as we continue to support our minority business men and women who now can bid for contracts knowing they do so with justice on their side.”
“It is worth reminding the court that the letters in the name ‘Ergon’ could be rearranged to form the word ‘Negro,’ prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo to the judge. “Witnesses heard references to Ergon by that slur within EL (Evans Landscaping). One witness testified that Doug Evans thought the use of that term for Ergon was hilarious. The word ‘Negro’ was written in handwriting at the top of an invoice that was found on a table in Doug Evans’ office during the search.”
They also wrote: “The evidence in this case showed that Evans Landscaping Inc. is a company whose decisions, direction and culture are defined by one man, Doug Evans. Under his leadership, the company engaged in a detailed, lengthy scheme to create a front company and fraudulently obtain inclusion contracts.
“This was not a simple, one-time theft. This scheme required persistent deception and concealment to numerous third parties and government entities over a period of time, born out of sheer greed. Evans and his company did so with no regard for the government programs or legitimate SBEs they harmed. He and his company saw fit to use and abuse anyone – including EL employees – to fraudulently obtain more contracts. This offense is a cynical scheme to achieve selfish objectives. It weighs heavily in favor of a significant sentence of imprisonment.”
In December 2018, a federal jury convicted the company, Evans and other company executives on all counts charged in the lengthy fraud case.
Evans, the company based at 9743 E Kemper Road, and Jim Bailey, its vice president of operations, were convicted of defrauding the City of Cincinnati and other public entities through fraudulent small business contracts.
According to court records, Evans and other employees including Korey Jordan, created a new company called Ergon Site Construction in 2008 to serve as a shell for Evans to secure minority contracts in Cincinnati and Ohio that were worth nearly $2 million.
Ergon’s president and owner, Korey Jordan, had no prior experience in the field but provided IT services for Evans Landscaping, prosecutors noted.