BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Bribes, kickbacks, money laundering and fraud. Those are the allegations against Christopher Epps, the man once responsible for running Mississippi's corrections system. Thursday, Epps and Rankin County businessman Cecil McCrory were named in a 49 count federal indictment. In that indictment are allegations two men ran a seven year scheme that involved state contracts, hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments, and property purchases along the coast.
Epps and McCrory both made their initial appearances in federal court Thursday to hear the charges against them. Those charges reveal how the defendants reportedly devised a scheme to secretly profit off contracts the department of corrections awarded McCrory's companies. A condo unit in a Pass Christian complex is one of the gifts Epps reportedly received through a deception that started in 2007.
In the 49-count indictment are allegations of wire fraud, bribery, money laundering, and tax evasion. The former corrections commissioner is named in 35 of charges, the Rankin County businessman is linked to 15.
The indictment spells out how McCrory would reportedly use a variety of businesses or consulting partnerships he ran to "bribe or provide kickbacks to Christopher Epps in exchange for the awarding of MDOC contracts, leases or work to companies owned by McCrory."
Read the entire indictment online: http://shout.lt/KcKY
The deception, and the under the table kickbacks allegedly started in 2007. Throughout the indictment, the government repeats how Epps and McCrory reportedly "took steps to hide, conceal, and cover up their activity and the nature and scope of their dealings."
One of the alleged cover ups is linked to property purchased by Epps along the coast. The government claims "large bribe payments" from McCrory helped Epps take out a loan to purchase a condominium in Biloxi. The indictment says a later bribe payment helped Epps "trade in his Biloxi condominium for a larger, more expensive condominium in Pass Christian… continuing to conceal and disguise the nature and source of the proceeds of the specified unlawful activity."
The Pass Christian condo is unit #304 in the Pass Marianne complex on Highway 90. Wednesday, the federal government seized that property, along with Epps' Flowood home, and two cars.
According to the indictment, those items were just some of the secret "gifts, payments, and other things of value" the former corrections commissioner received over a seven year period. They allegedly came from a businessman who the government contends wanted "to enrich himself by secretly obtaining favorable official action for himself, his companies and his clients through corrupt means."
Christopher Epps abruptly resigned as commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections on Wednesday. Deputy Commissioner Richard McCarty has been named the interim leader of the state prison system.