Former Escanaba mayor enters guilty plea to embezzlement

ESCANABA – The former mayor of Escanaba will be sentenced this fall on a 15-year felony for embezzling $50,000 to $100,000 while he was secretary for a local service club.

Leo Evans, 58, of Escanaba, pleaded guilty to the embezzlement charge during a plea hearing in Delta County Circuit Court Monday morning. Judge Stephen Davis presided over the proceeding and set Evans’ sentencing for Sept. 11.

In exchange for Evan’s guilty plea on the 15-year felony, Prosecuting Attorney Steve Parks agreed to dismiss the 20-year embezzlement charge which police initially arrested Evans on last month.

Evans was arrested at his home on June 16 on one count of embezzlement over $100,000.

The Michigan State Police Post from Iron Mountain was in charge of the local investigation into Evans’ conversion of funds from the non-profit organization.

During his arraignment in district court last month, Evans stood mute to the charge and the court entered a not guilty plea on his behalf, explained his attorney Jayne Mackowiak.

As part of Monday’s plea agreement, Evans agreed to pay restitution to the Eagles Club and allowed the court to acquire joint interest in his home.

When Judge Davis asked Evans what happened during 2011-2014, Evans said he used approximately $83,000 in checks and cash for his personal use without authority from the organization.

After setting Evans’ sentencing for Sept. 11, Judge Davis told him to get his personal affairs in order prior to that date because sentencing may include jail time which would be served immediately.

The judge estimated Evans’ court fines would amount to $250 in addition to restitution which is also due at the time of sentencing.

Prior to court adjourning Monday, Parks asked for Evans’ bond to stipulate he can participate in no gaming or gambling activities while he is free on bond. The judge agreed.

Following Evans’ arrest on June 16, he posted $500 – 10 percent of a $5,000 cash bond – the same day and has been released from police custody since then.

Prior to being arrested, Evans resigned as the club’s secretary and resigned from the organization after trustees confronted him in March about the misuse of club monies. A local store had alerted members about suspicious checks Evans was allegedly cashing.

Evans also resigned as mayor pro tem from Escanaba City Council before his arrest. He stated in his resignation letter that he was leaving due to an upcoming issue. Council accepted his resignation at its April 3 meeting. Evans had served on city council for 18 years including several years he was mayor.