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Press Release

Former City of Richmond Official and Wife Plead Guilty to Fraud

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. – A former senior manager at the City of Richmond Department of Public Works (DPW), who previously served as the Deputy Director of Operations at DPW, and his wife pleaded guilty today to defrauding the city.

According to court documents, Michael Evins, 67, used his position within DPW, a governmental entity responsible for providing engineering, technical, and administrative services to Richmond residents, to steer governmental contracts towards himself and his co-conspirators, including his wife, Samaria Evins, 52.

From at least 2016 through 2021, Michael Evins and Samaria Evins took steps to defraud the DPW. First, Samaria Evins and other co-conspirators created and operated straw companies to bid on DPW work. Second, Michael Evins designated and approved DPW work to be performed by these straw companies using his position at DPW, circumventing Virginia law and City of Richmond rules against self-dealing by public employees. In some instances, the work to be performed was completely fabricated and no such work was ever needed. In other instances, the work was actually performed by DPW employees, not by contracted vendors. Sometimes, Samaria Evins and other co-conspirators subcontracted the work out for profit upon winning the DPW work. Third, where procurement amounts exceeded $5,000, a DPW approval threshold requiring that work be competitively bid, Michael Evins and his co-conspirators manufactured fictitious straw bids on behalf of competitor companies to engineer the preferred company winning the work. Finally, upon receiving DPW funds, Samaria Evins and other co-conspirators paid Michael Evins a portion of the proceeds. 

As an example, in early 2019, DPW sought to have overgrown foliage at Parker Field, an area in Richmond, cleared in advance of Fourth of July celebrations that same year. Though Michael Evins knew mowing of the field was being performed by DPW employees, he nevertheless approved a requisition 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, Michael Evins, Samaria Evins, and their co-conspirators fraudulently caused DPW to disburse at least $603,701 in funds to companies owned by Samaria Evins and her co-conspirators, causing approximately $226,767 in loss to DPW.

Michael Evins is scheduled to be sentenced on November 7. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Samaria Evins is also scheduled to be sentenced on November 7. She faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison. Another co-conspirator, Shaun Lindsey, a senior administrative technician at DPW, previously pled guilty in the same scheme on May 9. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office; and James Osuna, Inspector General, City of Richmond Office of the Inspector General, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge M. Hannah Lauck accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Avi Panth is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case Nos. 3:23-cr-81 and 3:23-cr-87.

Updated July 19, 2023

Financial Fraud