ESCANABA – Former Escanaba Mayor Leo Evans was sentenced in Delta County Circuit Thursday to one year in jail and five years probation for embezzlement of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Escanaba.
Evans, 58, plead guilty to embezzlement of the Eagles club in July. He was accused of taking money from the Escanaba Eagles club over several years while he served as secretary.
Evans apologized to the members of the club who packed the courtroom.
“All Eagles members and the citizens of Escanaba, I am sorry for what I did,” he said as he faced those behind him in the courtroom. “I’m sorry that I did not live up to the standards that I should have been. I can’t make things right. I wish I could.”
Evans faced a 15 year felony. Along with one year in jail and five years probation, Evans was ordered to pay restitution of $100,851 and serve 20 hours a week in community service. He was also ordered not to enter a casino nor participate in gambling.
Judge Stephen Davis said it was the most he could sentence Evans to under state law.
“I cannot send you to prison. The guidelines in the law do not allow that. I can give you the maximum the law does permit,” he said.
Delta County Prosecutor Steve Parks told Evans that he should be ashamed for betraying people who trusted him. He blamed sentencing guidelines passed by the legislature for the length Evans’ sentence.
“Some people are outraged that prison was not imposed. Others imply that there was some sort of shady deal between the prosecutor’s office and the judge and with the defense attorney, And, still others in a case such as this might suggest that Mr. Evans got special treatment because he is the former mayor of Escanaba,” Parks said before sentencing. “But the people who talk about shady deals, special treatment, lenient prosecutors or judges don’t understand our system or the rules that have imposed upon us.”
Parks said the guidelines were passed to save the state money.
Following sentencing, Evans was escorted out of the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies. He is lodged at the Delta County Jail.
Evans served on the Escanaba City Council for 18 years including several terms as mayor. He resigned submitted his resignation in March.