Attempts to move forward with sentencing former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps, hit a road block in court. MPB's Desare Frazier reports
Federal prosecutors told U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate, they need to determine the net value of 15 or more contracts they've discovered, before Christopher Epps is sentenced. The feds contend the procedure is required by law. They told Judge Wingate the contracts are in excess of $800 million dollars. Epps' attorney, John Colette, says that's more than the initial $300 million alleged at the outset of the case.
"The initial number was a total contracts for $300 and some million. But there were areas that didn't have a value. Then they came back and they said it was $500 million. Then we had a meeting and they said it was really $390 million and then last week they said oh no, wait a minute, it's really $860 million. So it keeps moving," said Colette.
Colette objected in court saying he was ready for his client to be sentenced. Epps pleaded guilty last year to accepting 1.4 million dollars in bribes for contracts over a seven year period. Colette says at issue is how much did the companies benefit from the contracts awarded by Epps.
"The guidelines seems to suggest that you have to determine, not the $800 million. You have to determine the net benefit, in other words, did they make a profit? If they made a profit, how much?" said Colette.
Colette emphasized the services were provided and the state didn't lose money. Now Federal prosecutors will begin subpoenaing documents from the companies. They will also subpoena the CEOs to testify at a hearing in U.S. District Court, in Jackson, June 9. Prosecutors say they will advise companies if they could be implicated in the case.
Epps' sentencing is now scheduled for July 18.