Former restaurant owner asks judges to overturn conviction

Evidence doesn’t support 1st-degree felony count, Eva Christian’s attorney says

The attorney for former restaurant owner Eva Christian — who has served more than three years of a nine-year prison sentence — filed new documents with the Ohio Second District Court of Appeals on Thursday seeking to throw out her most serious felony conviction and get her sentence reduced.

Dayton attorney Brock Schoenlein is attempting to convince a majority of a three-judge appeals court panel that Christian should not have been convicted of a first-degree felony charge of “engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity,” one of five counts of which Christian was found guilty in a 2012 trial.

The other counts, related to insurance fraud, were lesser felony offenses.

The same court of appeals already threw out Christian’s first-degree felony conviction once, in a June 2014 decision that also reduced the severity of two other counts. But Montgomery County prosecutors appealed that decision to the Ohio Supreme Court, which earlier this year restored the most serious felony conviction and returned the case to the lower court.

But the Ohio Supreme Court did not hear Christian’s appeal directly, deciding instead that their ruling on a separate case that raised issues similar to Christian’s should apply to her case. Schoenlein argued that several other aspects of the case outside the scope of the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision support a ruling that Christian should never have been convicted of the most serious charge.

If that conviction was thrown out, her nine-year sentence could be cut by about half. Cururently, Christian is scheduled to remain in the Mansfield Reformatory for Women through May 2021. She faces possible deportation when she is released, prosecutors have said.

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 in Miami Twp.

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