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AG Hood going after prison bribery contractors

Courtesy of Telesouth Communications Inc

Attorney General Jim Hood has that he has filed 11 civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) lawsuits against all corporate and individual conspirators in the prison bribery scandal.

There are a total of 25 pending lawsuits.

“We’ve sued the individuals involved,” said Attorney General Hood. “12 of them are from out-of-state, three are from in-state… six have plead guilty.”

 Attorney General Hood is seeking damages and punitive damages against the following individuals and corporations:

  • Former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps
  • Cecil McCrory
  • Robert Simmons
  • Irb Benjamin
  • Sam Waggoner
  • Mark Longoria
  • Teresa Malone
  • Carl Reddix
  • Michael Reddix
  • Andrew Jenkins
  • Management & Training Corporation
  • The GEO Group, Inc.
  • Cornell Companies, Inc.
  • Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
  • The Bantry Group Corporation
  • AdminPros, L.L.C.
  • 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, L.L.C.
  • AJA Management & Technical Services, Inc.

 Attorney General Hood said the lawsuits are intended to bring back the money that was stolen from the state as part of the corruption scandal. 

“The state of Mississippi has been defrauded through a pattern of bribery, kickbacks, misrepresentations, fraud, concealment, money laundering and other wrongful conduct,” Attorney General Hood said.

“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 punishment these conspirators and to deter those who might consider giving or receiving kickbacks in the future.”

 The lawsuits allege that many of the corporations knew of the actions of their agents, and that the services were often labeled as “consulting fees” which would be the kickbacks paid back to Epps to the tune of $800 million.

 To date, Epps, McCrory, Simmons, Benjamin, Waggoner and Longoria have pleaded guilty to their involvement in the conspiracy.

Hood said that the lawsuits have been a long time coming, but with limited ability to wiretap individuals, they’ve had to call on outside resources to gather the information. Those expenses would be covered in the lawsuits.

The attorney general added that while there is no timeline as to how long this litigation could take, he sees progress and settlements being made by the end of the year.

While $800 million dollars is expected to be tied to these investigations, there’s no guarantee to how much the state will recover, given the fact that a few of the companies are in the red.

 Still, Hood said he will be fighting for the payback of all of the contracts. 

“Out-of-state corporations were eager to take advantage of Mississippi taxpayers and secure MDOC contracts through bribery and fraud. 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,” Attorney General Hood said. “I have a duty to protect the integrity of the public contracting process, as well as to vindicate the rights of the state when it is a victim of public corruption and other wrongful conduct.”

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