Corrections corruption: Epps, McCrory plead not guilty in federa - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Corrections corruption: Epps, McCrory plead not guilty in federal indictment

Chris Eppes Source: WLBT archives Chris Eppes Source: WLBT archives
Count 23 of the indictment explains how Epps allegedly used large bribe payments in November, 2011 to purchase a condominium in Biloxi Source: U.S. Attorney's Office Count 23 of the indictment explains how Epps allegedly used large bribe payments in November, 2011 to purchase a condominium in Biloxi Source: U.S. Attorney's Office
The government contends Epps and McCrory devised a scheme that defrauded MDOC and the State of Mississippi out of thousands of dollars. Source: U.S. Attorney's Office The government contends Epps and McCrory devised a scheme that defrauded MDOC and the State of Mississippi out of thousands of dollars. Source: U.S. Attorney's Office
After Epps' mortgage was paid off, he allegedly told McCrory he could get anything he wanted from MDOC through Epps. Source: U.S. Attorney's Office After Epps' mortgage was paid off, he allegedly told McCrory he could get anything he wanted from MDOC through Epps. Source: U.S. Attorney's Office
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - On Thursday afternoon, Chris Epps, former Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, and local Rankin County businessman Cecil McCrory pleaded not guilty to charges against them.

The 49 count indictment includes charges of bribery, money laundering, wire fraud, filing false tax returns and illegal structuring of transactions. This scheme reportedly took place between 2007 and March 2014.

Both Epps and McCrory were released on $25,000 bond. Their trial is set for January 5.

"Today we are announcing a major blow to the systemic and invasive corruption in our state government," said Acting U.S. Attorney Harold Brittain. "In doing so we are hopefully restoring some of the public trust has been so deeply violated."
 
Chris Epps let money and personal gains dictate who got contracts at the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Because former legislator and businessman Cecil McCrory was dealing out the dough, Epps let his loyalties lie with him. Their bribery and scheming lasted for nearly a decade.
 
 "Our tolerance for public corruption is zero," explained Brittain.
 
So what was in it for Epps? Well, he paid off his mortgage on a home in Flowood.  According to the indictment, those payments from McCrory totaled more than $350,000. He then did the same for a condo in Biloxi. That allowed him to buy an even larger condo in Pass Christian. The government says that property is inside the Pass Marianne Condominium complex on Highway 90. After Epps' mortgage was paid off, he allegedly told McCrory he could get anything he wanted from MDOC.

According to the indictment, the total amount of money Epps received over the last seven years was well over a million dollars.Epps refused to comment on the case as he went in and out of federal court Thursday.
 
The indictment shows Epps tried to be careful with the money he was getting in kickbacks. He kept it in the safe at his home and would deposit to multiple bank accounts. He also never deposited more than $10,000 at a time in fear it would raise a red flag.

But it's come to light that multiple complaints were made. One was filed in 2010 by the Leake County Sheriff. 


"Brought the complaint to the FBI and then off and on throughout the course of it, passed information, those types of things," admitted Sheriff Greg Waggoner.
 
A year later, a state agency was brought into the mix.
 
"We began this case and received our first complaints at the auditors office, on our side and the investigation, in the fall of 2011," said State Auditor Stacey Pickering.
 
Pickering said there were multiple complaints. Those are separate from the Leake County complaint.

Epps abruptly resigned on Wednesday amid the federal investigation. Authorities have moved to seize the Flowood home of the former Commissioner as well as his beachfront condo in Pass Christian and two Mercedes Benz sedans.

McCrory also abruptly resigned his position Wednesday.

He is the owner of companies that do business with the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Those companies are Mississippi Correctional Communications, LLC and Correctional Communications LLC. Alleged bribes and kickbacks are detailed in the indictment against Epps and McCrory.

Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove appointed Epps as MDOC commissioner in 2002.

In addition, former Gov. Haley Barbour and current governor Phil Bryant reappointed Epps to continue serving in that capacity.

You can read all of the criminal counts, and about all of the evidence by clicking on this sentence.

Or click here: http://ftpcontent4.worldnow.com/wlox/EppsMcCrory.pdf

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