WILLIAMSBURG, Ohio — The Ohio EPA did not want Evans Landscaping to work on a wetlands restoration project in Clermont County this spring, citing factors these kinds of as “contractor integrity” and “compliance with community coverage.”
“A continual topic in contracting with federal or point out dollars is the idea of ‘responsibility,’” wrote Martha Spurbeck, a grants administrator for the Ohio EPA Division of Surface Drinking water, in a Jan. 11 e-mail to the Clermont County Water and Soil Conservation District. She did not recommend offering the Williamsburg wetlands task to Evans Landscaping inspite of it currently being the lowest bidder.
WCPO attained these email messages as element of a community information ask for to Clermont County about contracts supplied to Evans Landscaping in the three several years given that its higher-profile trial and federal legal conviction.
A jury convicted Evans Landscaping, owner Doug Evans, and vice president of operations Jim Bailey of minority contracting fraud expenses in December 2018, for producing a shell enterprise to earn millions in demolition careers from the state of Ohio and city of Cincinnati that were being intended for modest and minority-owned corporations.
Evans grew a higher university occupation hauling mulch into a landscaping empire more than 35 decades. Now the $35 million firm has 250 staff members, 200 pieces of machines and does anything from small residential landscape assignments to making a $5 million athletic advanced for Princeton Metropolis Universities. It also has completed many stream restoration tasks locally, such as Mill Creek in Cincinnati, according to its bid proposals.
But that was not more than enough for the Ohio EPA.
So a distinctive contractor will crack ground this spring on the wetlands challenge in Williamsburg. The undertaking is partly funded by an EPA grant to take out damaging algal blooms from East Fork Lake.
Doug Evans did not react to a ask for for comment.
A federal choose sentenced owner Doug Evans to 21 months in jail and purchased the company to shell out $500,000 throughout a court docket hearing in January 2020. But he declined prosecutors’ request to ban the business from authorities work for a few yrs though it was on probation.
So there is no authorized reason why Evans Landscaping, cannot get federal government bids.
Conversely, lawyers say there is also no authorized motive why local authorities companies will have to award do the job to a business with a fraud conviction.
And a great deal of nearby governing administration agencies do nevertheless perform with Evans.
The I-Staff claimed previous 7 days that Doug Evans and his firms have gathered extra than $430,000 from local governing administration entity contracts and general public buys of items such as mulch and gravel in the earlier 3 several years due to the fact the December 2018 conviction.
Hamilton County, the Kenton County Airport Board, Union Township, and the village of Newtown signed contracts with Evans for do the job this kind of as demolitions, creek fix and snow hauling through the past a few a long time.
But not the Clermont County Soil and Drinking water Conservation District.
“I assume the Ohio EPA letter speaks for itself. Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District agreed with their evaluation and felt that Evans Landscaping did not submit the most affordable and greatest bid,” director John McManus wrote in an email to WCPO.
Ohio law sets a typical standard that municipalities should really settle for the most affordable and most effective bid, with every single agency in a position to determine what “best” indicates for them.
Following Evans submitted a $474,414 bid for the Williamsburg Wetland Job very last December, staff members at Clermont’s soil and h2o district achieved out to the Ohio EPA for information on no matter whether or not to accept it.
The Ohio EPA, which declined to remark to WCPO, responded with a prolonged electronic mail recommending versus giving the bid to Evans.
In addition to the minority contracting conviction, Spurbeck mentioned Evans’ previous environmental complaints as reasons towards giving the corporation the bid for the wetlands venture.
She cited the civil lawsuit that Ohio Legal professional Common Dave Yost submitted from Doug Evans and his keeping firms very last March for the alleged open up dumping of strong waste and illegal disposal of development and demolition debris at 3 facilities in Anderson Township considering the fact that at least 2014.
The Ohio EPA will participate in that civil demo, which is set for August, she wrote.
“The Ohio EPA suggests versus entering into a (federal Clear H2o Act) funded subcontract with Evans Landscaping,” Spurbeck wrote.
Clermont Soil and Water Conservation District responded by supplying the task to the upcoming most affordable bidder.
This wasn’t the first wetlands task that Evans Landscaping bid for, but didn’t get, in Clermont County.
Evans also submitted a $108,999 bid on the Shor Park Stream and Wetlands Restoration job on Aug. 24, 2021. Vice president Jim Bailey, who was convicted at demo with Evans, submitted the bid with an connected rationalization of the conviction.
“The prospective most important participant, Evans Landscaping, ls unable to certify that it has not, in just a three-yr period, been convicted for the commission of a criminal offense. Nearly 3 a long time in the past, in 2018, Evans Landscaping was convicted of federal offenses for allegedly violating the terms of so-called compact-small business and economically deprived enterprise applications involving Evans’s romance with a minority contractor, Ergon Web-site Construction – a business in which neither Evans nor its owners had any ownership. Evans unsuccessfully appealed the conviction and maintains its innocence.”
In the long run that felony conviction prompted Chris Clingman, Clermont County Park District director, to suggest in September that the board of park commissioners award the project to the upcoming lowest bidder, regardless of Evans’ bid being nearly $10,000 less expensive, according to email messages.