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Evans co-defendant's tax evasion trial begins

Developer C. Hayward Chapman is charged with evading $843,957 in taxes. A conviction could mean five years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

By JEFF TESTERMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 2, 2001


TAMPA -- A day after convicting Tampa developer C. Hayward Chapman of giving illegal gratuities to a public official, the same jurors began hearing testimony Thursday in his tax evasion case. Chapman, 64, faces a charge of income tax evasion stemming from $2.1-million in income channeled from Bradley and Bradley Development Corp. in 1997 to Concorde Inc., a contracting company Chapman controlled.

Federal prosecutors say Chapman failed to file a timely IRS return on the income and evaded $843,957 in income tax.

On Thursday, jurors heard testimony from Terry Keirn, who is Chapman's daughter and Concorde's sole shareholder. She testified that checks written on Concorde's business account at the direction of Chapman included $16,000 for a cash present to her daughter, $19,478 for a Harley Davidson motorcycle for Chapman and $133,760 for a property purchased in Georgia in Keirn's name.

If convicted of the income tax evasion charge, Chapman could face a five-year prison term and a $100,000 fine.

Chapman already faces as many as eight years behind bars after being convicted this week of paying four gratuities through Concorde to Audley Evans, former executive director of both the Tampa Housing Authority and a non-profit housing agency called Meridian River Development Corp.

Concorde obtained contracts worth $700,000 from Meridian River in 1996 and 1997. Chapman's gratuity convictions stem from his pledge of a $25,000 certificate of deposit for an Evans bank loan and his direction to Keirn to send three checks totaling $125,000 from the Concorde account to pay off mortgages Evans owed. Chapman's attorney, Frank Winkles, said he will file a motion to overturn the gratuity verdicts because Evans was not a public official while at the helm of Meridian River Development. Prosecutors say Meridian River was a public agency because it received HUD money from some tenants.

Evans, 48, the boss of the Tampa Housing Authority from 1988 to 1996, was convicted Wednesday of bribery, conspiracy, accepting illegal gratuities and making a series of false statements to a federal agency.

Evans' attorney, Arnold Levine, said he will seek to have the verdicts set aside.

Evans, who was following the Chapman proceedings in the courtroom Thursday, faces a maximum sentence of 77 years in prison. District Judge James S. Moody has scheduled his sentencing for May 21.

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