Several agencies looking into Hinds contracts, relationships - - Jackson, MS

Several agencies looking into Hinds contracts, relationships

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

First there's the issue of Stacey Stowers getting multiple contracts with Hinds County. One of the contracts, for emergency communications system maintenance, could pay out more than $4 million by the year 2013. The contract was not bid out beforehand.

Then there's the issue of Attorney Precious Martin, who serves as outside counsel to the Board of Supervisors even though he's married to Crystal Martin, the board attorney. Precious Martin may have collected millions on a settlement between Hinds County and Motorola, but the terms of the settlement are being kept secret. The suit against Motorola came about because of an audit report that Stowers and his subcontractor, Nathan Hargrove, helped to author.

It's a lot for District Attorney Robert Smith to pour over. He clarifies something he told us last week. "Looking at the totality of the circumstances, a complaint from an individual may not be necessary. That is a very extensive investigation that would have to take place," he says.

Smith has gotten complaints about the matter, too. Recently he received a letter from a citizen concerned about the no-bid contract awarded to Stowers. "We are cooperating with an investigation along with other agencies. That could take some time," Smith says.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering told WLBT News in April that his office was looking at several matters involving the Hinds County Board of Supervisors.

A Grand Jury has lots of investigative power. We asked Smith what role a Grand Jury could play. "They can look at this matter, ask questions, they can request that witnesses be called," Smith tells us. "We are cooperating with other agencies in this matter. Not to duplicate any investigation. It would be more cost effective to work together as opposed to everyone doing a separate investigation on every aspect of this matter."

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