Woman says former executive who defrauded city also fooled her
Jeremy M. Lazarus | 12/7/2023, 6 p.m.
Sharon B. Holmes is relieved that a retired senior executive in the Richmond Department of Public Works is going to prison for engineering a scheme that ripped off the department for $600,000.
But the 74-year-old Henrico County resident just wishes his prison term was much longer.
Michael Evins, 67, and his wife and co-conspirator Samaria Evins, 52, were sentenced to serve two years and three months in federal custody last week after they pleaded guilty, a relatively short term that resulted from a change in the federal sentencing guidelines.
“I had hoped that it would be far longer,” said Ms. Holmes, who is all too familiar with Mr. Evins.
While he was using his position as DPW director of operations to rip off the department for at least six years, he also was flim-flamming Ms. Holmes.
Ms. Holmes met Mr. Evins in 2009 when she lived in Mechanicsville.
“He stopped by my home out of the blue and just asked if I wanted to sell (my home),” said Ms. Holmes, a widow who lost her husband in 2002. “I told him ‘no’, but we got to talking,” she said, and that led to a romantic relationship with Mr. Evins.
She said he often talked about them getting married, but she was not ready to re-marry.
But when she bought her current home at 2004 Springdale Road in Eastern Henrico in 2011 for $85,000 in a foreclosure sale, Ms. Holmes paid Mr. Evins to handle the renovation of the first floor.
Four years later, the sweet-talking Mr. Evins engineered a scheme that resulted in her signing over to him her dream home that sits on nearly two acres of land in a quiet neighborhood off Mechanicsville Turnpike.
At the time, she said she wanted to borrow about $40,000 on the Springdale property that she owned free and clear, with the money to be used to pay some debts and fix the basement area of the home.
Ms. Holmes said Mr. Evins persuaded her to go a lawyer’s office where she signed papers she believed would provide the loan but were actually closing documents that transferred the property to him.
She said she received $15,000 after she failed to notice that the closing document provided $30,000 to Mr. Evins to reimburse him for the renovation of the home’s first floor, which she had already paid for.
“I really didn’t know what was happening,” Ms. Holmes said.
She said she only found out seven years later that she no longer owned the property.
That’s when her children, concerned she might accept a proposal from Mr. Evins and move to another state with him, began investigating him.
They discovered that he married his current wife in 2019.
Ms. Holmes’ children further learned that their mother’s rental home, which now is assessed by the county for tax purposes at $251,000, is in Mr. Evins’ name, she said.
Essentially, Ms. Holmes learned she was a tenant paying him monthly rent, she said, even though Mr. Evins had repeatedly told her the payments she made were going to pay off the loan.
Mr. Evins had been charging her $200 a month since gaining the property, then boosted that to $500 a month in 2022, which is when she said their personal relationship ended.
In October, Mr. Evins notified her that the rent was going up to $750 a month.
Ms. Holmes, 74, a retired patient services representative at a local hospital, is consulting a lawyer in hopes that Mr. Evins’ conviction might help her prove she was defrauded by him.
Mr. Evins’ illegal activity with the city came to light after a whistleblower provided information to James Osuna, the city’s inspector general.
The results of Mr. Osuna’s investigation were turned over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Richmond, which brought charges earlier this year.
According to the indictment, Mr. Evins created phony companies that listed his wife as owner-operator.
He then got help from another co-conspirator Shaun Lindsey, a former senior administrative technician at DPW.
Ms. Lindsey, who also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison, was in charge of approving services DPW needed from outside firms when the work involved was expected to cost less than $5,000.
Mr. Evins created phony contracts with his wife’s companies and submitted invoices with Ms. Lindsey’s help that resulted in payments from the city for work that was never done.
In one instance, Mrs. Evins’ shell company was paid $4,800 by the city after submitting phony invoices for mowing the lawn at Parker Field 16 times, even though city employees were tasked with doing the mowing as part of their duties.
The indictment alleged that between 2016 and 2021 when Mr. Evins retired, the conspirators illegally received more than $600,000 from the city.
City documents indicate that at least that much has been recovered after the charges were brought against the Evinses and Ms. Lindsey.
Until Mr. Osuna began his investigation, no questions were ever raised by DPW or the Department of Finance about the phony invoices Mr. Evins submitted.
The Free Press was told that DPW employees who knew what was happening kept silent after finding the department fired people who talked about the misdeeds of senior department executives.