The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Crime & Courts

December 5, 2013

Manager of Carthage apartment complexes draws prison term

CARTHAGE, Mo. — A Carthage woman was sentenced Thursday to three years and five months in a federal prison for fraudulent schemes involving four apartment complexes she managed.

U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner assessed Barbara J. Evans, 55, the prison term without parole and ordered her to pay about $206,000 in restitution. Evans had pleaded guilty in October 2012 in federal court in Springfield to single counts of wire fraud, money laundering and filing a false tax return.

Evans was employed as a property manager for Preservation Housing Management of Boston, Mass., which owned the Deerfield Village, Highland Acres, Highland Meadows and Maplewood Manor apartment complexes in Carthage. PHM oversees the properties through an office in Kansas City.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri said in a news release Thursday that when low-income tenants who qualified for federal rent assistance leased apartments at Deerfield Village, Evans “generally calculated the move-in rent amounts correctly.” When tenants reported an increase in income, however, she would delay reporting it on PHM’s computer system while charging a corresponding rent increase and pocketing the difference.

From 2003 through 2011, she netted proceeds totaling $206,069 in such fashion, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Her money-laundering conviction pertains to Evans knowingly concealing proceeds of that wire fraud when she purchased and remitted money orders in tenants’ names, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The defendant admitted cashing or depositing tenants’ rent payments into her own bank account and using the funds to purchase money orders for lesser amounts. She then would forge tenants’ signatures on the money orders and falsely present the money orders to PHM as their rent payments.

PHM discovered in May 2006 that Meeco Construction, a contractor hired by Evans to perform work at Deerfield Village and Maplewood Manor, was owned by Evans’ husband, Mike Evans. Meeco Construction had been performing work on the properties since October 2003. A former president of PHM reprimanded her at the time, and she was instructed to discontinue using any vendors related to her or any other PHM employees.

In September 2006, the defendant created A.J. Construction and began submitting bids and invoices from the company to PHM, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

PHM policy required two or three competing bids on any construction project of more than $5,000. Evans, in her capacity as manager, submitted fictitious competing bids and insurance documents to PHM aimed at ensuring that A.J. Construction would get all contracts at the properties she managed.

From Sept. 28, 2006, to June 15, 2009, A.J. Construction received $191,922 for work completed at Deerfield Village, Highland Meadows, Highland Acres and Maplewood Manor. The U.S. attorney’s office said the only work A.J. Construction ever performed was work contracted by PHM Properties.

Evans also admitted filing false federal income tax returns from 2006 through 2010 by failing to report $171,790 in income on her Form 1040, resulting in a total tax loss to the federal government of $28,737.

Extent of fraud

THE U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE in Springfield initially estimated the extent of fraud committed by Barbara Evans at $400,000. She faced the possibility of being assessed up to 43 years in prison on her three counts of conviction.

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A Missouri Senate committee has endorsed a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund transportation projects. The proposed constitutional amendment passed the House earlier this month. If passed by the full Senate, the measure would head to the November ballot for voter approval. Would you vote in favor of it?

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