RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A former senior manager at Richmond’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and his wife have been sentenced for defrauding the City, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
According to court documents, 67-year-old Michael Evins, who previously served as the deputy director of operations at DPW and managed up to 60 employees, and his wife were sentenced to two years and three months in prison and eight months of home incarceration for fraud.
The Department of Justice said Evins used his position at DPW to “steer governmental contracts towards himself and his co-conspirators,” including his wife, 52-year-old Samaria Evins. Michael and Samaria Evins defrauded the DPW from at least 2016 through 2021.
First, Samaria and other co-conspirators created and ran ‘straw companies,’ or fraudulent companies, to bid on DPW work.
Next, the Department of Justice said Michael designated and approved DPW work to be done by these straw companies using his position at DPW, evading Virginia law and City rules that prohibit self-dealing by public employees.
In some instances, the work to be done was completely fabricated and no such work was ever needed. In other instances, the work was actually performed by DPW employees instead of contracted vendors. Sometimes, the Department of Justice said Samaria and other co-conspirators subcontracted the work for profit upon winning the DPW work.
Next, in instances where the DPW needed work to be done worth amounts above $5,000 — a DPW approval threshold requiring that work be competitively bid — Michael and his co-conspirators carried out false bids on behalf of competitor companies to cause the preferred company to win the work.
Finally, when DPW received the funds, Samaria and other co-conspirators paid Michael a portion of the proceeds, according to the Department of Justice.
As an example, in early 2019, the DPW sought to clear overgrown foliage at Parker Field — near Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Richmond’s East End — before Fourth of July celebrations that same year.
Though Michael knew mowing of the field was being done by DPW employees, he approved a request in the DPW purchase order system for a company owned by Samaria Evins to mow the entire area 16 times in four days, at a total cost of $4,800.
In all, the Department of Justice said Michael and Samaria Evins, and their co-conspirators fraudulently caused DPW to disburse at least $603,701 in funds to companies owned by Samaria and her co-conspirators, causing approximately $226,767 in loss to the DPW.
A co-conspirator, Shaun Lindsey, a senior administrative technician at DPW, pleaded guilty to the same scheme on May 9 and will be sentenced on November 14 of this year, according to the Department of Justice.