JACKSON — A 49-count federal indictment charges former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps, who resigned abruptly this week, with accepting more than $700,000 in bribes from a Rankin County businessman.
The indictment unsealed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Jackson also charges Cecil McCrory of Brandon and says he paid Epps to obtain contracts for himself and other companies.
The indictment says McCrory was a paid consultant for companies that received contracts from the Corrections Department to run private prisons, including Cornell Group, GEO Group and current contractor Management and Training Corp. The companies were named in the indictment but not charged.
Epps is charged in 35 counts, while McCrory is charged in 15.
The indictment charges Epps used the money from McCrory to pay mortgages on a house in Flowood and a condominium in coastal Pass Christian.
Epps resigned yesterday and did not respond to phone messages yesterday and today seeking comment. The indictment was filed under seal in August.
The earliest incident has been chronicled in a report by the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, which said that McCrory’s company, G.T. Enterprises, won a no-bid contract to provide commissary services to the prison system. But the indictment goes on to chronicle dozens of bribes and acts by Epps after that.
The allegations portray Epps as a willing participant in the schemes, recounting a 2012 conversation in which Epps told McCrory that he had persuaded MTC to hire McCrory as a consultant, with McCrory and Epps splitting the money after taxes.
“I got us $12,000 per month,” the indictment states.
The indictment says Epps kept the cash in safe at the house. Federal authorities are now trying to seize the house, the condo, two cars and multiple bank accounts.
Epps resigned yesterday, but federal authorities filed to seize his house in March. McCrory, who served two terms in the state house from 1988 to 1996, was a member of the Rankin County school board until he resigned Tuesday.
Sheila Wilbanks, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said U.S. Attorney Greg Davis recused himself from the case.
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