By Jeff Lehr
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
The manager of four Carthage apartment complexes pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court to counts of wire fraud, money laundering and tax fraud stemming from her thefts of rent payments and hijacking of construction contracts.
Barbara J. Evans, 54, waived her right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty to the three counts in U.S. District Court in Springfield. She faces up to 43 years in prison without parole and a possible order of restitution, with a sentencing hearing to be scheduled once a pre-sentence investigation is done.
The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Missouri puts the extent of the thefts and fraud committed by Evans at almost $400,000.
In her capacity as a property manager for Preservation Housing Management, a Boston-based company with an office in Kansas City, Evans supervised the Deerfield Village, Highland Acres, Highland Meadows and Maplewood Manor apartments in Carthage.
Between 2003 and 2011, Evans stole $206,069 by pocketing portions of rent payments made by tenants at Deerfield Village, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
She would calculate correctly the move-in rent amounts of low-income tenants eligible for federal rental subsidies. But when tenants reported an increase in income, she would delay reporting their corresponding increases in rent to PHM.
As a result, the prosecutor’s office said, the tenants would pay correct, higher rental amounts to Evans, but she would continue providing the lower amounts to the company, keeping the difference for herself.
In carrying out the scheme, she would cash or deposit tenants’ rent payments into her own bank account and then buy money orders for lesser amounts. She then forged the tenants’ signatures on the money orders and represented them as their rent payments to PHM.
Evans also steered $191,922 worth of construction work at the four apartment complexes to a single contractor between 2006 and 2009 in violation of PHM’s own competitive bidding policy, the U.S. attorney’s office said. She was reprimanded by PHM in 2006, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
But, just four months later, in September 2006, Evans created A.J. Construction and began submitting bids and invoices to PHM for work at all four apartment complexes.
PHM policy required that at least two or three bids be obtained on any project costing more than $5,000. But Evans got around the requirement by submitting fictitious competing bids and falsifying insurance documents, which ensured that A.J. Construction would get all the contracts, the U.S. attorney’s office said. The contractor reportedly performed no work for any entity other than PHM.
Evans’ schemes reportedly led to her filing of false federal tax returns from 2006 through 2010. In those years, she failed to report $171,790 of income, resulting in a tax loss to the federal government of $28,737.
THE CONVICTION OF BARBARA EVANS announced Wednesday by the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield was brought about by a joint investigation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Internal Revenue Service.