Former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps is pleading not guilty to 49 federal corruptions charges. Epps and a former Rankin county school board president are accused of working together to bilk the state of nearly 1-million dollars.
Federal officials are hitting Epps and Cecile McCrory with a long list of accusations including bribery and money laundering among other public corruption related charges.
Both men plead not guilty and were released on 25-thousand dollars bond.
Acting US attorney Harold Britain says the scheme is startling in its scope and complexity.
"Today we are announcing a major blow to the systemic and evasive corruption in our state government. And in doing so we are hopefully restoring some of the public trust that has been so deeply violated," Britain said.
Britain says Epps funneled business to McCrory in exchange for bribes and kickbacks.
Officials have confiscated hundreds of thousands of dollars in property and cars in addition to over one-million dollars in cash from Epps.
Walking out of the federal courthouse in Jackson, a stone-faced Epps ignored questions shouted by a sea of reporters.
His attorney John Colette says its to soon to respond to the charges.
"At this point we just got the indictment. It is an extensive document. We really have no comment and the commissioner is not going to make a comment. We appreciate everyone's interest and concern but at this time we have no comment about the case," Colette said.
McCrory also did not speak.
Epps was the state's longest serving corrections commission and highly respected by many public officials.
Governor Phil Bryant, who is the third Governor Epps has served under, is unsparing in his criticism of the disgraced commissioner.
"Obviously whenever you find out that anyone is breaking the law. From my standpoint, being a former auditor, it angers you when you find out someone has that type of stupidity and corruption in state government," Bryant said.
A trial date for Epps and McCrory is set for early next year.