Read February 27, 2015 post that spelled out this scheme.
A bill of information filed in U.S. District Court Thursday gives more details on the suicide of a Harrison County supervisor a year ago. The bill provides an interesting picture of how MDOC Commissioner Chris Epps, Supervisor William Martin, and "consultant" Robert Simmons conjured up a scheme to award contracts and pay kickbacks in Harrison County. The Simmons-Epps corruption train even made stops in East Mississippi as well. The bill charges Simmons with one count of bribery.
Sentinel Offender Services, LLC paid Harrison County bidnessman Robert Simmons a $4,000 a month consulting fee. Simmons started paying $1,400 per month into the bank account of MDOC Commissioner Chris Epps in July 2012. The bill of information called the payments "kickbacks or bribes". However, the California company was not the only kickback gig for Simmons.
AJA Management and Technical Services paid Simmons a $10,000 per month "consulting fee". Epps received a share of the monthly payments. The company had a contract to manage construction services for expansion of the East Mississippi Correctional Facility and Walnut Grove Youth Correctional facility. Another company "obtained a contract" to perform work at the two facilities and paid Simmons a "consulting fee" for ten months. Simmons paid Epps 20 um, kickbacks during the ten-month term. Simmons is the third such consultant nailed by the feds in the MDOC scandal. Irb Benjamin and Cecil McCrory have also been busted for acting as "consultants" and paying kickbacks. Flora-based AJA is owned by none other than Andrew Jenkins.
However, those two contracts were small potatoes compared to the Health Assurance scandal in Harrison County. Health Assurance provides medical services to correctional facilities. It had a contract to provide such services to the Harrison County jail from 2005 to 2011. Health Assurance, LLC is owned by physicians Carl and Michael Reddix and is located on Ridgewood Road in Jackson. It was formed in 2001. The registered agent is attorney Charlene Priester although Judge Melvin Priester served in that capacity in previous years prior to his election to the bench.*
The bill of information states "the owner of Health Assurance" paid Simmons up to $10,000 per month as a "consulting fee". The owner is Carl Reddix. Simmons then paid $2,000 a month to "a Harrison County Supervisor for assistance in securing the contract at the Harrison County Jail for inmate medical services". The bill states "a duly elected supervisor of Harrison County.. exercised influence in the awarding of contracts with Harrison County, Mississippi."
Supervisor William Martin was indicted a year ago for playing a part in this scheme. However, he committed suicide a few hours before he was scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment. JJ will go on the record and state that the unnamed supervisor is Lawrence. Simmons made combined payments of at least $5,000 per month to Epps from 2005 to 2014.
JJ reported on February 27, 2015:
Harrison County awarded a contract to Health Assurance, LLC in 2004 for the provision of medical services at county correctional facilities. See page 92 of the minutes.
Supervisor Martin seconded the motion to award the contract to the company and usually seconded motions whenenever the motions where favorable to Health Assurance. Mr. Martin was the only black member of the Harrison County Board of Supervisors. Seethespending.org records state that Harrison County paid Health Assurance, LLC over $14.6 million from 2005 to 2012 for services provided to the county jail and youth detention center.
Harrison County paid Health Assurance the following amounts of money each year:
FY 2012: $2.0 million
FY 2011: $2.4 million
FY 2010: $1.9 million
FY 2009: $1.9 million
FY 2008: $1.9 million
FY 2007: $1.5 million
FY 2006: $1.2 million
FY 2005: $1.7 million
FY 2004: $0.0
The county terminated the contract in July 2012.
The Martin indictment states:
That from on or about January 2005 through on or about August 2012, in Harrison County, in the Southern Division of the Southern District of Mississippi and elsewhere, that the defendant, William Martin, did corruptly solicit, demand, accept, and agree to accept multiple things of value from a person, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with a transaction and series of transactions of Harrison County, involving a thing of value of $5,000 or more.This time period just happens to be the exact same time period when Harrison County made payments to Health Assurance financial. Sources on the Gulf Coast told JJ that State Auditor representatives copied records regarding medical contracts for Harrison County as well as travel and other records for Mr. Martin.
*Keep in mind Hinds County District 1 Supervisor Robert Graham fought long and hard to keep a Reddix contract with the Hinds County Sheriff's Office. He also fought to reinstate the contract last year to provide medical services to the Hinds County Detention Centers.
Kingfish note: The bill of information means he waived indictment. Based on previous experience of watching these cases, we will probably get a guilty plea sometime soon from Simmons.
Oh, read the February 27, 2015 post about the Harrison County scandal and ask why the media ignored it for so long. JJ obtained the story through law enforcement sources and public documents. Most of the information came from hours spent reviewing public documents. The media ignored this story. Not one word was mentioned about it on Twitter but for Anita Lee of the Sun-Herald. The rest of the media couldn't be bothered. They would rather wait a year for everything to be spelled out and spoon-fed to them in a bill of information.