BREAKING: Restaurant owner renews fight to get prison sentence reduced

Former Dayton restaurant owner Eva Christian today renewed her efforts to shorten her prison sentence, claiming that a Montgomery County judge exceeded her authority when she re-imposed Christian’s nine-year sentence last July.

Convicted of five insurance fraud-related charges in 2012, Christian has served more than half of her nine-year sentence in the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. Her appeals have bounced back and forth among state courts, including the Ohio Supreme Court, since her conviction.

Christian owned and operated Boulevard Haus (formerly Cafe Boulevard) in Dayton’s Oregon District for 15 years. The criminal case revolved around break-ins and a 2009 fire 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 what was then her second restaurant, Cena Brazilian Steakhouse.

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The multiple appeals succeeded on one front — the severity of some of the charges on which Christian was convicted was reduced — but those decisions did not result in a corresponding reduction in her punishment when she appeared before Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara P. Gorman for re-sentencing in July 2016.

In an appeal filed this afternoon, Feb. 14, with the Ohio 2nd District Court of Appeals, Christian’s court-appointed attorney, Brock Schoenlein, contends that Gorman overstepped her legal authority by re-applying the same nine-year sentence.

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If the appeals-court judges agree that the re-imposed sentence was contrary to Ohio law, it could send the case back to Gorman for re-sentencing, with Christian’s potential maximum sentence lowered to eight years, Schoenlein told this news outlet today, Feb. 14.

Montgomery County prosecutors will now have a chance to file their own arguments with the court before a panel of appeals-court judges issue a ruling.

At her re-sentencing hearing in July 2016, Christian told the judge she was sorry for the pain she caused family, friends and the employees of her restaurants, whom she said she also considered family. She said she didn’t realize four years earlier how much impact her actions would have on those close to her.

“It has consumed me and is haunting me every day,” Christian said. She urged the judge, “Please give me a chance to be a law-abiding citizen.”

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Gorman was not persuaded. The judge noted that Christian tearfully pleaded for leniency four years earlier in the very same courtroom — only at that time, she was still firmly denying that she was guilty of any of the charges against her.

“I don’t know if you’ve really made a change, or if you’re a really good actress,” Judge Gorman told Christian.

Whenever she is freed, Christian — who was born in Croatia and raised in Germany, and has German citizenship — faces potential deportation, Montgomery County prosecutors have said.

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