JACKSON – Teresa K. Malone, wife of former state Rep. Bennett Malone of Carthage, was accused Monday in a federal indictment of a scheme to bribe then-prisons chief Christopher Epps in exchange for contracts with her employer, Illinois-based AdminPros LLC.
Malone’s July 13 indictment was unsealed by the U.S. District Court for the southern Mississippi district. She will make an initial appearance Aug. 3 before Magistrate Judge Keith Ball.
Malone’s indictment went public just hours after Texas businessman Mark Longoria of Houston, Texas, was accused of funneling bribes to Epps through a Rankin County company. Longoria also is scheduled to make an Aug. 3 appearance before Ball on the charges against him.
If convicted on all three counts, 54-year-old Malone faces up to 30 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.
According to her indictment, Malone was a paid consultant for AdminPros LLC, which under multiple contracts provided medical vendor monitoring and Medicaid eligibility services to the Mississippi Department of Corrections. She was paid $5,000 per month from October 2010 through July 17, 2014, from revenue generated through those contracts.
Malone is accused of conspiring with Epps “through bribes and kickbacks” by using interstate wire transmissions. Her goal was to influence Epps to award and retain AdminPros’ contracts with the corrections department, the indictment states.
The government claims that Malone paid Epps “regularly” in various cash amounts from $1,000 to $1,750 beginning in 2010 and that she was paid “no less than $170,000” by AdminPros, of which she “would kickback cash” to Epps.
Her husband, Bennett Malone, was chairman of the House Corrections Committee, during the latter years of his legislative career. He is no longer a public official.
Longoria, 53, was charged Monday in a criminal information, which is a formal charge from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and not through a grand jury.
If convicted of conspiracy, he faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He also faces forfeiture of cash and property.
The four-page federal accusation says Longoria was an officer in Drug Testing Corp., which gained the Mississippi Department of Corrections contract to sell drug test cups for drug screening. The federal accusation against Longoria claims he used Investigative Research Inc. to funnel bribes to Epps.
Federal authorities say DTC had a commission agreement with Investigative Research Inc., a company owned by Cecil McCrory of Rankin County, a co-defendant with Epps. DTC billed the Department of Corrections for more than $632,000 in August 2013.
One month later, after DTC got paid, the company sent a check to McCrory’s company for $194,837.50, the federal information filing shows. In May 20, 2014, DTC billed the corrections department for $149,940 and sent McCrory’s company $34,997.64, the federal filing shows.
McCrory pleaded guilty to bribing Epps for contract awards, but his attorney Carlos Tanner has told the court his client will withdraw that plea.
If Longoria or Malone is found guilty, the government also seeks forfeit of all property and proceeds “involved in and traceable to” the alleged offenses.
Last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca said more co-defendants in the scheme would be revealed Monday, but Longoria and Malone appear to be the only new ones thus far.
On July 26, Jackson OB/GYN Dr. Carl Reddix, 57, was charged with bribing Epps for contract for Reddit’s company, Health Assurance LLC to provide inmate health care services at four state prisons. He is free on bond and has not yet entered a plea.
Epps was due to be sentenced July 18, but counsel on both sides continue to sort through documents to confirm the depth of the state’s loss from Epps’ bribery, which has a bearing on his possible sentence.
Two other defendants await sentencing and another awaits trial in October.
Should the State of Mississippi somehow manage to recover any money, spend a couple of hundred bucks at Sam’s for paper cups that can be used in drug testing and spend the remainder on full-time public auditors with plenty of bite. Meanwhile, the stench of public corruption is overwhelming.
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