Hood sues to recoup $800 million in prison scandal funds

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Attorney General Jim Hood will sue 25 companies and individuals he says illegally profited from a Mississippi prison bribery and kickback scheme.

In all, Hood has filed 11 civil RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) lawsuits against entities that he says “defrauded” Mississippians “through a pattern of bribery, kickbacks, misrepresentations, fraud, concealment, money laundering and other wrongful conduct.”

“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 punish these conspirators and to deter those who might consider giving or receiving kickbacks in the future,” Hood said.

In 2014, the federal government indicted Christopher Epps, then the commissioner of the state prison system, charging him with orchestrated a bribery scheme for contracts with the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

The value of these contracts totaled between $800 million and over $1 billion. Hood wants those involved to pay back the value of the contracts plus attorneys and other fees because, he contends, the companies would not have been awarded state business if not for participating in the bribery scheme.

Six people, including Epps and Cecil McCrory, his alleged co-conspirator, and four others have pleaded guilty in the case. Hood said others could be charged as the case moves forward.