Former MVA manager pleads guilty to tax evasion

November 07, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

The former manager of the Motor Vehicle Administration's self-insurance program pleaded guilty to tax fraud Friday, but denied he was bribed by an unlicensed insurance broker to steer Maryland businesses the broker's way.

"I know I didn't do anything wrong. The whole thing was ridiculous," Austin W. Evans said after agreeing to plead guilty to one count of tax evasion.

Evans said the $9,132 he received from Meadowlark Insurance in Kansas City, Mo., in 1991 was for consulting work.

He could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison on Nov. 17 by Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Martin A. Wolff. He was convicted of similar federal charges in Kansas City this fall and will be sentenced in the next six weeks.

Evans, 49, of the 100 block of N. Wolfe St. in Baltimore, had been on trial on five counts of bribery and one count of tax fraud, but his guilty plea ended nine hours of deliberations for jurors who had heard a week of testimony and remained deadlocked over his fate.

Prosecutors said Evans received five checks from the broker, F. Travis Riley, in 1991 as a payoff for funneling insurance business to him.

As an MVA manager, Evans determined if businesses such as the Baltimore City School Bus Association and Rentals Unlimited, of Clarksville, qualified for the self-insurance program by posting $250,000 bonds.

Assistant Attorney General Christopher J. Romano, head of the office's criminal investigation division, said those two firms paid Mr. Riley to post the required bonds and Evans received kickbacks. Mr. Riley also provided Evans with an $8,000 loan that never was repaid, Mr. Romano said.

Evans was fired by the state after charges were filed.

Mr. Romano said that when Evans was questioned about the payments by FBI agents and state police last fall, he denied taking any money from Riley at first, then said it was for consulting work.

Jurors said that they were convinced Evans failed to report the payments on his 1991 income tax return, but were not sure he was guilty of the five bribery counts.

"I think he deserves some kind of penalty, but I'm not sure what it should be," said Theresa Lewis, a juror from Crofton.

Evans also was convicted of extortion and mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Kansas City on Sept. 23.

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