Montgomery County prosecutors are urging appeals court judges to keep Dayton restaurant owner Eva Christian behind bars while she appeals her nine-year prison sentence and her conviction on five felony counts related to insurance fraud.
“The nature and circumstances of her crimes were horrendous, most notably the fire that was started at her restaurant … in a heavily populated strip mall where the lives of several bystanders were put at risk,” assistant Montgomery County Prosecutor Andrew T. French said in court documents. “After the fire, when the fire department had shut off the gas lines, the gas was somehow ‘mysteriously’ turned back on — three separate times — resulting in three evacuations of the area.
“Proof of her guilt was also strong, as evidenced by the quick guilty verdict — less than five hours (of jury deliberation) — following 10 days of testimony.”
French also said Christian is a German national “who, despite several requests that she do so, has never surrendered her passport,” which makes her a flight risk if she would be released from prison pending the outcome of her appeal.
Springboro attorney Marshall G. Lachman wrote in his earlier request to suspend the restaurant owner’s prison sentence that Christian “has been a productive member of the community for a number of years, owning businesses and employing many citizens … (She) posted bond during the course of her trial court proceedings and appeared at every required court proceeding it is (my) understanding that much of the evidence against (Christian) that led to her conviction was based on the testimony of less-than-credible witnesses.”
Christian is seeking a court order putting her prison sentence on hold and blocking the forfeiture of her Washington Twp. home that would help repay more than $80,000 in restitution that she has been ordered to repay to two insurance companies and to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Miami Twp. Fire Department.
Christian, the owner of Boulevard Haus restaurant in Dayton’s Oregon District, was convicted by a jury on May 22 of five felony counts — including a first-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity — related to two incidents of insurance fraud. 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. near the Dayton Mall.
Testimony during the two-week trial included a prosecution witness who testified that Christian wanted to “blow up” Cena, which was adjacent to a family-portrait studio and men’s clothing store near the Dayton Mall in Miami Twp.
Prosecutors say Christian faces deportation upon her release from prison in 2021 unless the conviction is overturned on appeal.Tweet