Doug Evans, owner of Evans Landscaping, Inc., based in Cincinnati, and the vice president of operations, Jim Bailey, faced trial for federal wire fraud charges, as in Irrigation & Green Industry.
The jury reached a verdict Dec. 11, convicting both men of defrauding the city of Cincinnati and other public entities through fraudulent small business contracts, .
According to the press release issued by the DOJ’s Southern District of Ohio, Evans Landscaping does not qualify as a small business enterprise (SBE) due to the size and ownership of the company, nor does it qualify as an Ohio Encouraging Diversity, Growth, and Equity program (EDGE) contractor for economically disadvantaged businesses.
In 2008, the defendants and others established, controlled and operated a demolition company, Ergon Site Construction LLC. Ergon’s president and owner, Korey Jordan, had no prior experience in the field but provided IT services for Evans Landscaping. Ergon fraudulently obtained certifications as an SBE and EDGE contractor while concealing Evans Landscaping’s involvement in and control over Ergon, DOJ found.
Jordan did not make any capital contributions to the establishment of the company and performed little to no work for Ergon. Evans Landscaping employees handled almost all of the accounting and office management functions of Ergon, according to DOJ.
From 2011 through 2014, Ergon bid on and won more than 100 residential demolition contracts with the city of Cincinnati, totaling approximately $1.9 million, using Ergon’s SBE status. During this timeframe, Evans Landscaping also bid on state demolition and construction projects claiming Ergon would provide a percentage of the services and receive part of the funds to be paid.
The company and both men were convicted of two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud. The two men were also convicted of one count of misprision of a felony. Four others involved in the case, including Jordan, also pleaded guilty. These four, along with Evans and Bailey, will be sentenced in 2019.