Ohio Restaurant Owner Sentenced for Insurance FraudInsurance Fraud — By Trace America on June 12, 2012 at 10:37 AM
Going from wearing your own clothes to work everyday as a restaurant owner to wearing a state issued jumpsuit can’t be an easy transition. And one former Ohio restaurant owner will be finding that out the hard way after receiving a nine-year sentence for her involvement in an arson related fraud scheme.
Not only that, according to the Dayton Daily News, restaurant owner Eva Christian faces deportation following her release from the nine-year prison sentence that she was given on June 6th by Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara P. Gorman.
Christian has owned and operated Boulevard Haus (formerly Cafe Boulevard) for 15 years.
During her testimony, she made two emotional pleas to Gorman: first for leniency and to be given probation, and second for an appeals bond that would allow her to remain free while her convictions are appealed.
The judge rejected both by calling Christian “a dangerous person” and telling her, “I don’t think you have a conscience.”
Upon Christian telling the judge “Please, I am not a flight risk, I will not leave,” Gorman responded with, “I don’t think you know the difference between the truth and a lie. So I do believe you are a flight risk.”
Prosecutors originally stated that Christian faced a maximum of 17 years in prison after a jury convicted her on May 22nd of five felony counts for two incidents of insurance fraud. That included a first-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
The case revolved around break-ins and a fire during 2009 that Christian reported and which prosecutors said were staged in order to collect insurance money: one break-in at her Washington Twp. home and a reported vandalism and fire at her now-defunct Cena Brazilian Steakhouse in Miami Twp.
During the testimony from the two-week trial, one witness for the prosecution testified that Christian wanted to “blow up” Cena, which was adjacent to a family-portrait studio and men’s clothing store.
Gorman stated, “These offenses may sound non violent, but your plan could have hurt a lot of people. You conspired with someone to blow up your unsuccessful restaurant.”
While the judge made no mention of deportation during the sentencing, Assistant Montgomery County Prosecutor Mary Montgomery noted the current immigration rules and stated, “When she’s released, she’ll be deported.” Christian was born in Croatia and raised in Germany, where she has citizenship. Montgomery noted that while Christian is considered a “permanent resident” of the U.S. after marrying an American citizen, the conviction for the first-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity leads to automatic deportation for non citizens.
Christian was also convicted of four lower-level felonies –two counts of insurance fraud and two counts of making false alarms– in connection with the reported break-ins and the restaurant fire. Gorman said Christian will be required by law to sell her Washington Twp. home to help pay restitution to two insurance companies and for the investigations that led to her conviction.
The impact of her sentencing hasn’t seemed to take much of a toll on the Boulevard Haus however, with an employee, Donald Stamper, answering the restaurant’s phone during lunch service. He noted that the restaurant is operating as usual. “We’re definitely going to stay open,” Stamper said. “Our entire staff has pulled together as a team.”
In her plea for leniency, Christian stated that Boulevard Haus employees depend on her for their livelihood, and that her adult son “needs me.” She remained defiant about the jury’s decision to convict her, noting that she “cannot confess to a crime I have not committed.” She of course testified during the trial and denied any wrongdoing.
But prosecutors presented testimony from police, fire and insurance company investigators and from witness Diane Jones, who testified that she and her husband were part of a scheme developed by Christian to stage both break-ins.
This post is authored by Trace America.