Thursday, February 18, 2016

One more Epps domino falls

U.S. Attorney Greg Davis issued the following press release:


Gulfport, Miss - Robert Simmons, 60, a businessman from Biloxi, Mississippi, pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden to a Criminal Information charging him with carrying out a complicated kickback scheme in which he paid money to the commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) and to a Harrison County Supervisor in exchange for lucrative contracts with the state and county, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Harold Brittain and FBI Special Agent in Charge Don Alway. Simmons will be sentenced on May 26, 2016 at 9:00 a.m., and faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

By virtue of Simmons’ relationship with the commissioner and supervisor and the kickbacks which he paid to both, he was successful in securing and keeping contracts with both governmental entities. Specifically, from 2012 through August 2014, Simmons was paid $4,000 a month as a consultant for Sentinel Offender Services, L.L.C. (Sentinel). Since 2012, Sentinel was under contract with the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) to provide services to aid in the monitoring and managing of offenders sentenced to probation or parole. Simmons deposited a portion of his monthly pay, a kickback of $1400, directly into the bank account of Christopher Epps, the Commissioner of the MDOC, at bank branch locations along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

AJA Management and Technical Services (AJA) provided construction management services to the MDOC for the construction of the $40,000,000 expansion to the East Mississippi Correctional Facility and a $40,000,000 expansion to the Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility. Throughout the eighteen month period of construction, Simmons received a monthly consulting fee from AJA of $10,000. Every month, a portion of Simmons’ consulting fee was paid to the Commissioner of the MDOC.

From approximately 2005 through 2011, Health Assurance L.L.C. contracted with the Harrison County Jail to provide inmate medical services. The owner of Health Assurance L.L.C. paid Simmons a consulting fee which, at the end of the contract, was as high as $10,000 a month. Throughout this period of time, Simmons made payments in the amount of $2,000 a month to a Harrison County Supervisor for assistance provided in securing the contract at the Harrison County Jail for inmate medical services.

Throughout the relevant time period, the Commissioner of the MDOC exercised influence in the awarding of contracts with the MDOC. In return for these contracts and in order to secure future contracts and favors, Simmons began paying Commissioner Epps.

In summary, Simmons paid bribes and kickbacks to a Harrison county supervisor and to the commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, and both Harrison County and the Mississippi Department of Corrections received more than $10,000 during each one year period beginning in 2008 and continuing through 2014.

Acting U.S. Attorney in this case, Harold Brittain, praised the FBI agents for their work in identifying the conduct and ferreting out those individuals responsible for compromising the systems upon which taxpayers should be entitled to rely in ensuring that public funds are spent wisely. “Public officials soliciting and receiving bribes and kickbacks cannot be allowed to violate the public trust by participating in the expenditures of funds provided by taxpayers in support of government projects and contracts,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Brittain. “These projects must be awarded honestly and transparently.”

“Public Corruption investigations like these are a top priority for the FBI because those who would betray the public’s trust and confidence for self-gain undermine the very fabric of our democracy,” said Don Alway, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Jackson Division”


Anonymous said...

I now understand why neither me nor any of my clients got to do any business with the Department of Corrections over the past decade. Oftentimes I had lunch with Commissioner Epps - and noticed that he always paid for it with $100 bills. Never understood why our reasonable offers for products/contracts never got far past the RFP process - its all clear now.

Hope Simmons, Reddix, Waggoner, Irb, McCrory, and many others have fun rotting in jail - wish they wouldn't get the country club fed pens where they do nothing but mow grass. They have lived far too high for far too long by sucking up the tax dollars they were stealing along with smiling Chris.

Keep up the work, US Atty. You (along with your predecessor, Mr. Hurst) have done good. A few down, many more to go.

Anonymous said...

Looks like another $40,000,000 prison expansion will need to be completed somewhere soon just for the imprisoned "consultants". I think they deserve most of the credit for Mississippi being ranked as the most corrupt state in the USA.

Anonymous said...

I think they deserve most of the credit for Mississippi being ranked as the most corrupt state in the USA.

No, the credit for that would go to the establishment Mississippi Republican Party and the Barbours.

Anonymous said...

NO. The credit for that goes to the fact that the State (led by a Republican Auditor, Pickering) is going after and prosecuting these cases. Working with AG Hood (Dem, MS) and the US Attorney (non-partisan staff led by Obama Dem appointee) is looking for and ferretting out this crap.

The fact that these cases are being prosecuted does show the corruption; thus the result of the playing with statistics to make us 'corrupt'. If other states don't go after their corruption, they don't make the list. You know, kinda how you same idiots talk about Jackson, or Madison, or Ridgeland - depending on your prejudices - talk about how they might be changing their arrest records.

Chasing these corrupt folks that worked with a corrupt administrator (first hired by a Dem administration, first promoted to Commissioner by Dem Musgrove; kept in place by a Repub Barbour, kept in place by a Repub Bryant) damn sure makes Epps be whatever you want to make him be.

But - he didn't start this crap under the Repubs - thank you 8:12. He was corrupt long before that. And check out those that he was involved with - all Dems from long ago. They weren't part of what you have conveniently labeled as the MRP and the Barbours. Try again.

Who B Next? said...

The fat lady ain't sung yet. That's what keeps so many assholes clenched up and people unable to sleep.

Anonymous said...

OK, now maybe the Feds will come to Madison County and take Rudy Warnock and his gaggle of corrupt former Supes away for their bribery scheme that lasted decades. Karl Banks, Tim (Elvis) Johnson, John Bell Crosby, and last but not least, John Howland need to pay for the f'ing they did to the Madison County treasury all those years.

Anonymous said...

Are the Reddix brothers two of those with clenched behinds?

Public Eye said...

9:57; You forgot to include on your list two who were NOT defeated in their bids for re-election. They're still seated; however, three equals five.

And the corruption didn't start OR end with the previous Board of Supervisors.

Anonymous said...

Pickering busted Epps? Is that what you are saying?

Kingfish said...

Jenkins and Reddix are probably both taking valium right now.

Anonymous said...

AJ is protected by Bennie. Should be interesting.

Anonymous said...

In a very few posts, the above manage to name most of my list of corrupt people. I could add maybe 5, but your bloggers, Kingfish, have done a good job. If we, the few, can name them, why does it take so long to bring cases against them? How many legitimate businesses have gone under waiting for a fair chance? But, better late than never.

Anonymous said...

What about Robert Graham ?

Anonymous said...

Come on people, are you serious! Do you actually think Commissioner Epps committed these acts all these years without his bosses (the 3 Gov's) not even having a clue. If they did not have a clue, were are all in trouble. I would like to see posted the campaign contrubutions from Mr Epps the last 20 years.

Anonymous said...

Can Bennie protect Andrew with a new president

Anonymous said...

4:12, not many people will agree as all have their favorite politician who never does anything wrong.
If a person is governor and can't see a problem they are not qualified to be governor. It doesn't take a genius to see there has been money exchanging hands for many years. Sort of hard to miss unless you have a hand in the cookie jar.

Anonymous said...

Short sighted blinded commentators don't see the forest for the trees. I have strong belief that the last Governor, and continued by the current Governor did know about Epps scheme. But remember how this scheme was busted. The Feds spent several years chasing the various players; its reported that Epps wore a wire for almost a year.

The Feds needed Epps to stay in place while the Feds did a massive investigation. Once they became aware of the crap he was pulling, they would rather have caught him redhanded along with his conspirators than just kick him to the street.

Share The Meds said...

"....wore a wire for a year"? "It's reported"? "I have a strong belief"?

Anonymous said...

Musgrove, Barbour and Bryant were all informed of what a thug Epps was yet they all refused to replace him. Just curious how much of a kick back they all got from his schemes.

Kingfish said...

I think it is more of a case of he was a black conservative and virtually untouchable because they needed him and he knew it.

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