Corrections Corruption: Contract bidding process - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Corrections Corruption: Contract bidding process

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps and former Rankin County School Board President Cecil McCrory have been indicted on multiple counts of fraud and bribery. The charges are related to no-bid contracts awarded to McCrory's businesses, or other businesses for which he is a consultant. Governor Phil Bryant has assigned a task force to oversee the review of all MDOC contracts

According to the indictment, between November 2007 and October 2013, Epps awarded at least 15 service contracts which benefited McCrory. There are no dollar amounts provided for the contracts in the indictment, but if the contract value for the service exceeded $100,000, under law it should have been bid out, and at least three bids are required.

State Senator Terry Burton, Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee, says there are a few exceptions.

"If there is a sole source provider, if it's only available from one source, then you don't have to bid," said Burton.

The indictment shows that Epps sole sourced for McCrory on several occasions. In October 2013, for example, Epps wrote a letter to the State Personnel Board stating that Adminpros, a company that paid McCrory, was "the only vendor that performs Medicaid eligibility services for inmates."

State Senator John Horhn, also on the Appropriations Committee, believes all of the contracts mentioned in the indictment were sole sourced.

"Once that agency director submits that letter, the contract procurement board then approves the sole sourcing of that (service)," said Horhn.

Despite the tremendous amount of taxpayer dollars that were lost resulting from the alleged fraud outlined between Epps and McCrory, both lawmakers we spoke to believe checks and balances are in place.

"I think this is a rarity in state government," said Senator Horhn. "I think most people are very careful about what they sole source and what they don't sole source."

"You have the fail safes in place," added Senator Burton. "I don't know if anybody got around that or not, but if they did, a review might be in order."

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