Eva Christian operated a fine-dining restaurant called Cafe Boulevard and Boulevard Haus for 15 years in Dayton’s Oregon Historic District, in the space that now holds Lily’s Bistro, before spectacularly falling from grace and being convicted of five criminal counts related to insurance fraud in 2012.
Today, Christian is an inmate in the Marysville Reformatory for Women, where she has served nearly four years of what is — at least for now — a nine-year prison sentence.
Here are 7 things to know about Christian and how she went from a pinnacle to a prison cell.
• Eva Brcic was born in Croatia and grew up in Germany. After marrying a U.S. serviceman and moving to the U.S. (the couple later divorced), Eva Christian worked in several local restaurants before founding Cafe Boulevard in the summer of 1997. It was a stylish place that offered appetizers such as smoked salmon and baked Camembert, and it attracted a steady stream of diners from the outset.
• Christian opened her second restaurant, Cena Brazilian Steakhouse, in July 2007 in front of the Dayton Mall, but it did not enjoy the same success as Cafe Boulevard. Christian’s finances began to unravel. In 2009, she filed three separate bankruptcy petitions: one for her personal finances and one each for the Oregon District and Miami Twp. restaurants she owned, listing a combined total of $2.7 million in debts. Both restaurants, however, continued to operate as Christian worked to re-organize their finances.
• In July 2009, the restaurant owner was featured in a front-page story in USA Today that focused on small-business bankruptcies, telling the national newspaper, “When I decided to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, I felt crushed. But my attorney said that Donald Trump did it, and GM did it, and Delta did it. It gives people the opportunity to bounce back.”
• In the fall of 2009 — within three months of the USA Today story — Christian conspired with a couple and their son to stage a break-in and burglary at her Washington Twp. home and to vandalize her Miami Twp. restaurant in order to collect insurance settlements, according to court testimony at her 2012 trial.
• A jury deliberated for about five hours over two days before reaching a verdict of guilty on all charges in May 2012. Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara P. Gorman told Christian as she sentenced the former restaurant owner, “I don’t think you know the difference between the truth and a lie. These offenses may sound nonviolent, but your plan could have hurt a lot of people. … You conspired with someone to blow up your unsuccessful restaurant.”
• The case has bounced around on appeal for nearly four years, with Christian’s court-appointed attorney seeking to reduce the severity of the criminal charges and therefore cut down on her prison time. The case reached the Ohio Supreme Court once and is now before the same court again.
• Because she has German citizenship, Christian faces the possibility that she will be deported whenever she is released from prison. Montgomery County prosecutors say they’ll seek deportation.