Three former employees of Evans Landscaping pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court

Set up a fraudulent company to get contracts set aside for black and other minority owned businesses

Evans Landscaping has branch location in Symmes Township on Kemper Road near Loveland

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According to the June Indictment:

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 is alleged that Ergon (with the help of the coconspirators) fraudulently obtained certifications as an SBE, MBE and EDGE contractor while concealing Evans Landscaping’s involvement in and control over Ergon.

The indictment alleges 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.

According to the indictment, Evans paid Jordan a monthly salary through the Ergon payroll and Evans Landscaping employees handled virtually all of the accounting and office management functions of Ergon. For example, it is alleged that:

  • Ergon’s bookkeeping was kept on Evans Landscaping’s internal accounting database;
  • Evans Landscaping personnel had Jordan sign blank Ergon checks for the employees to use;
  • Evans Landscaping was a guarantor for Ergon’s line of credit and arranged for the purchase of two Mack Trucks in Ergon’s name;
  • At various times, Ergon’s business office and address was located on property owned by Evans or one of his companies;
  • Evans, Bailey and others controlled hiring and firing by Ergon, and at one point, Evans terminated the Ergon health care plan;
  • Evans Landscaping housed, maintained and dispatched the vehicles and equipment in Ergon’s name, which was used by both companies; and
  • Bailey and other Evans Landscaping officers and employees directed virtually all field and construction operations of Ergon, including on-site supervision and the managing of Ergon field workers.

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.

In a similar fashion, during the same timeframe, Evans Landscaping bid on State demolition and construction projects – particularly public school, university and municipal projects – by claiming Ergon would provide a percentage of the services and receive part of the funds to be paid.

On at least one occasion, Evans Landscaping allegedly listed a different subcontractor, won the contract, and performed the work without using, paying or even notifying the EDGE subcontractor named.

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Cincinnati, Ohio – Three former employees of Evans Landscaping pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to charges related to defrauding the City of Cincinnati and other public entities including universities and numerous school districts through fraudulent small business and minority business contracts.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Angela L. Byers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Field Office, and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced the pleas entered today before U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett.

Maurice Patterson, former CFO of Evans Landscaping, and Michael Moeller, former manager at Evans Landscaping, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Conspiracy to commit wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and mandatory restitution.

John Dietrich, former CFO of Evans Landscaping, pleaded guilty to one count of misprision of a felony. Misprision of a felony carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison, up to one year of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and mandatory restitution.

Documents filed with their guilty pleas say Patterson and Moeller conspired with others between 2008 and 2014 to create a company, Ergon Site Construction, LLC, to serve as a fraudulent Small Business Enterprise (SBE) and Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) company for the benefit of Evans Landscaping in obtaining public contracts. Dietrich became aware of the conspiracy and scheme to defraud and helped conceal the crime in 2013.

The owner of Evans Landscaping, Inc., Doug Evans, 55, of Cincinnati still faces Federal charges. (An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.)

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 does not qualify as a small business enterprise (SBE), a minority business enterprise (MBE) or as economically disadvantaged under local and state government programs according to a press release in June announcing the indictments.



 

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