Families of inmates file lawsuit against former MDOC Commissione - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Families of inmates file lawsuit against former MDOC Commissioner Epps

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

A class action lawsuit was filed in federal court in Jackson on Thursday on behalf of thousands of people incarcerated in Mississippi jails and their families and friends against Global Tel Link Corp (“GTL”).

GTL is a Virginia-based corporation that provides inmate telephone calling services (“ICS”) and other services to prisoners in Mississippi jails.

The lawsuit arises out of the bribery and kickback scandal involving former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps. He is now serving jail time in federal prison for accepting bribes and kickbacks in exchange for awarding unlawful no-bid contracts and other illegal benefits to various corporations and individuals. This includes the contract for the provision of ICS to individuals incarcerated in Mississippi jails.

The lawsuit alleges that GTL, and co-defendants Epps and Sam Waggoner, engaged in a criminal racketeering conspiracy, described in the lawsuit as the “Mississippi Prison Phone Scam” or “MPPS,” in which GTL funneled bribes and kickbacks to Epps through Waggoner, a “consultant” hired by GTL, to bypass Mississippi law requiring the bidding on certain contracts with the State.

The lawsuit says that the purpose of the conspiracy was to allow GTL to keep the ICS contract, without competitive bidding, and charge exorbitant fees and charges far exceeding market rates for ICS services paid for by the inmates and their families.

According to the lawsuit, “GTL stands atop an industry notorious for exploiting and gouging the weak and the defenseless.

Through a concerted campaign of bribery, kickbacks, and public corruption, the Defendants gained a long-term monopoly over telecommunications between family members and friends and their loved ones incarcerated in various facilities in the State of Mississippi.

The Defendants sought and maintained this monopoly with the specific goal of targeting the Plaintiff Class with exorbitant and rapacious fees and charges significantly higher than fair market rates and bearing no relation to the rates they were authorized to charge under GTL’s contracts with the State of Mississippi and local jailers.

Defendants Epps and Waggoner have both pled guilty to federal crimes related to the alleged conspiracy and the contract with GTL.

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed suit in February against these same Defendants in state court on behalf of the State of Mississippi and other local governmental entities to recover damages allegedly suffered by the State as a result of the same racketeering conspiracy conducted by the Defendants.

The class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi by Attorneys Wilson Carroll of Wilson Carroll, PLLC and Brad Clanton of the Clanton Law Firm, PLLC, both based in Jackson.

Copyright 2017 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly