Another domino fell in the Chris Epps scandal today. A federal grand jury indicted Butch Evans for one count of fraud and one count of bribery on July 13, 2016. Evans is a Ridgeland insurance agent. The indictment was unsealed today and alleges the Evans paid kickbacks to Chris Epps in exchange for insurance policies Evans sold to MDOC employees. The case was assigned to Judge Henry Wingate. The indictment states:
4. CHRISTOPHER B. EPPS through officialaction made the defendant Broker of Record for MDOC in September of 2012. As Broker of Record for MDOC, GUY E. "BUTCH" EVANS had exclusive access to sell insurance policies and products to MDOC employees. After becoming Broker of Record, the defendant sold insurance policies and products, to include Colonial Life and Accident Insurance Company, JAlwaysCare, and Humana, to MDOC employees and received a commission from these companies for policies sold....
7. It was the object of the conspiracy that defendant GUY E. "BUTCH" EVANS would bribe or provide kickbacks to CHRISTOPHER B. EPPS, in exchange for favorable official action as requested, and for EVANS to enrich himself, such as, the awarding of the position of Broker of Record to EVANS for the exclusive right to sell insurance to MDOC employees;
8. In furtherance of the conspiracy and to carry out its objectives, the following acts, among
others, were committed:
9. Beginning in January 2013, the defendant, GUY E. "BUTCH" EVANS, began regularly providing
CHRISTOPHER B. EPPS with cash payments in varying amounts, generally $1,400.00 to $1,700.00 per payment, in exchange for CHRISTOPHER B. EPPS as commissioner of MDOC naming EVANS Broker of Record and financially benefited EVANS and his company, Insurance Premium Services, LLC....
The indictment states the following payments were made to Mr. Epps' First Commercial Bank account:
*$2,906 on April 30, 2014
*$520 on May 7, 2014
*$1,900 on May 27, 2014
$2,913 on May 29, 2014
The indictment also states:
14. That from in or about January 2013, until in or about May 2014, the defendant, GUY E. "BUTCH" EVANS, was paid approximately $4,300.00 per month by Colonial, $1,400.00 to $1,700.00 of which EVANS paid to CHRISTOPHER B. EPPS each month.
14. That from in or about January 2013, until in or about May, 2014, the defendant, GUY E. "BUTCH" EVANS, was paid approximately $4,300.00 per month by Colonial, $1,400.00 to $1,700.00 of which EVANS paid to CHRISTOPHER B. EPPS each month.
The U.S. Attorney also asks the court to seize all property derived from the criminal enterprise.
Note: The U.S. Attorney also issued this press release:
Jackson, Miss – Guy E. “Butch” Evans, 61, of Jackson, has been charged with paying bribes and kickbacks to former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner (MDOC) Christopher B. Epps in exchange for exclusive access to sell insurance products to MDOC employees, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Harold Brittain, and FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Donald Alway.
Evans is charged in a two count indictment with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and bribery. According to the indictment, beginning in 2012 and continuing until 2014, Evans gave Epps bribes and kickbacks in exchange for the exclusive access to sell insurance products to MDOC employees. The indictment alleges that, beginning in January 2013 and continuing through May 2014, Evans received approximately $4,300 per month from the products sold through his exclusive access and he made cash payments to Epps ranging from $1,400 to $1,700 per month.
Acting U.S. Attorney Harold Brittain stated: “Corrupt individuals who place the integrity of government at risk will be held accountable for their actions. The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners remain unwavering in our commitment to root out public corruption at all levels and to restore the public trust.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Donald Alway applauded the investigators and prosecutors, whose hard work and determined efforts revealed these additional participants in this conspiracy of public corruption and led to the charges announced today. “Individuals and companies who do business with the government are held to a high standard of accountability,” said Alway. “When these individuals decide to use the government to supplement themselves at the public’s expense, they can expect the FBI to come knocking to hold them accountable. The FBI in Mississippi will continue to work alongside our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to identify and investigate those that criminally exploit the government.”
Evans made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball. The case has been set for trial on October 3, 2016 before U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate. The maximum penalty for the conspiracy count is 20 years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine. The maximum penalty for the bribery count is 10 years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mary Helen Wall.
The public is reminded that an indictment is merely a charge and should not be considered as evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.