Mississippi's attorney general says he's suing companies involved in the state department of corrections' prison bribery scandal. Eight-hundred million dollars could be at stake.
Attorney General Jim Hood is suing 15 corporations using an anti-racketeering law. He's seeking to recoup state funds paid to the companies and punitive damages for paying kick-backs in the Mississippi Department of Corrections Bribery Scandal. Hood says former corrections commissioner Christopher Epps awarded or directed some $800 million dollars worth of contracts to companies.
"We intend not only to recover the profits, the ill-gotten gains that these companies and individuals reaped from these contracts. But also to void the contracts and get the entire amount back to the state," said Hood.
Hood is also suing 10 individuals who he says paid bribes to Epps in exchange for contracts. Some current and former contractors have denied knowing about the pay-offs. Last week, a federal judge sentenced former legislator, Cecil McCrory to 8 and 1/2 years in prison. He pleaded guilty to money laundering. McCrory is one of the people on Hood's list. Democratic Senator Willie Simmons of Cleveland, is on the corrections committee. He supports the attorney general's decision.
"I think the attorney general as the top attorney for the state has the right to look into situations especially with the kind of situations, scenarios that we have had with the department of corrections or any agency for that matter," said Simmons.
Attorney General Jim Hood says it will be a lengthy process and believes some will settle out of court. He says the money will go into the general fund. Former corrections commissioner Christopher Epps has pleaded guilty to accepting $1.4 million in bribes. He's in jail awaiting sentencing in May.