Attorney General Jim Hood asks in 11 civil lawsuits filed under federal RICO statutes that the state be paid actual and punitive damages over a conspiracy to bribe former state Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps.
Hood is suing Epps and the following individuals and companies under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, originally crafted to go after mobsters.
▪ Businessman Cecil McCrory
▪ Coast planning consultant Robert Simmons
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▪ Former state Sen. Irb Benjamin
▪ Prison consultant Sam Waggoner
▪ Texas businessman Mark Longoria
▪ Consultant Teresa Malone, the wife of a former state representative from Carthage
▪ Carl Reddix and his brother, Michael Reddix, head of a health-care company with prison contracts
▪ Andrew Jenkins, who headed a company with prison construction contracts
▪ Management & Training Corporation
▪ The GEO Group, Inc.
▪ Cornell Companies, Inc.
▪ Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
▪ The Bantry Group Corporation
▪ AdminPros, LLC
▪ CGL Facility Management, LLC
▪ Mississippi Correctional Management, Inc.
▪ Branan Medical Corporation
▪ Drug Testing Corporation
▪ Global Tel*Link Corporation
▪ Health Assurance, LLC
▪ Keefe Commissary Network, LLC;
▪ Sentinel Offender Services, LLC
▪ AJA Management & Technical Services, Inc.
“The state of Mississippi has been defrauded through a pattern of bribery, kickbacks, misrepresentations, fraud, concealment, money laundering and other wrongful conduct,” Hood said in a news release.
“These individuals and corporations that benefited by stealing from taxpayers must not only pay the state’s losses, but state law requires that they must also forfeit and return the entire amount of the contracts paid by the state. We are also seeking punitive damages to punish these conspirators and to deter those who might consider giving or receiving kickbacks in the future.”
The lawsuits allege that the corporations paid millions in consulting fees to individuals who used the money to bribe Epps in exchange for contracts. Hood says Epps awarded or extended public contracts totaling $800 million in exchange for the bribes and kickbacks.
Epps, McCrory, Simmons, Benjamin, Waggoner and Longoria have pleaded guilty, admitting their roles in the conspiracy.
Hood alleges in the lawsuits violations of state ethics laws, plus racketeering and antitrust laws. In addition to damages, Hood asks that the defendants be required to forfeit all funds they received as part of the conspiracies.
“Out-of-state corporations were eager to take advantage of Mississippi taxpayers and secure MDOC contracts through bribery and fraud,” he said in the news release. “It is critical for the state to use the remedies at its disposal to recover damages and get back the money exchanged in these schemes.”