Montgomery County prosecutors are asking the state’s highest court to overturn a decision that would shorten the prison sentence of former Dayton restaurant owner Eva Christian.
In a 10-page memorandum in support of jurisdiction filed this week with the Ohio Supreme Court, county prosecutors argue that a three-judge panel of the Ohio 2nd District Court of Appeals erred in October when it ruled unanimously in favor of Christian. The ruling would effectively shorten her sentence from nine years to a maximum of eight years.
Before they can argue the merits of their appeal, prosecutors must first convince the supreme court it should take up the case. They’re doing that by arguing the precedent that the appeals court decision set could have widespread impact on other cases.
“The court of appeals has created bad law that could adversely affect numerous re-sentencing hearings,” Assistant Prosecutor Heather Jans wrote in the appeal.
Christian — who has already served more than five years in the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville — owned and operated Cafe Boulevard (later Boulevard Haus) in Dayton’s Oregon District for 15 years. The criminal case involved break-ins and a 2009 fire that Christian reported and which prosecutors said were staged in order to collect insurance money: a break-in at her Washington Twp. home and a reported vandalism and fire at what was then her second restaurant, Cena Brazilian Steakhouse in front of the Dayton Mall in Miami Twp.
RELATED: Restaurant owner renews fight to get prison sentence reduced (February 2017)
A jury convicted Christian in 2012 of five counts related to insurance fraud, filing a false report and running a crime ring. Since then, her appeals have traveled a circuitous route among the court of appeals, the state supreme court and the trial court.
In the most recent appeals-court decision, judges ruled that Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara P. Gorman exceeded her authority when she re-imposed the full, original nine-year sentence to Christian after the severity of some of the five felony charges on which Christian was convicted was reduced on appeal. Prosecutors had argued that the judge was well within her sentencing rights and had urged appeals-court judges to keep Christian’s nine-year sentence intact.
The former restaurant owner is scheduled to be re-sentenced by Judge Gorman in January. The prosecutor’s latest appeal has no immediate impact on the re-sentencing hearing, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office told this news outlet.
“The trial court must still follow the mandate of the Ohio 2nd District Court of Appeals,” the spokesman said. “The trial court could (postpone) the sentencing until a decision is made by the Supreme Court, but it is not required to do so.”