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Mississippi Attorney General Settles with Third Company in Epps Bribery Scandal

by Monte McCoin

PLN has previously covered the continuing fallout from a massive bribery scandal involving former Mississippi DOC Commissioner Christopher B. Epps, including RICO lawsuits filed by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood against several companies involved in the scandal.

In May 2017, Alere, Inc., which had purchased Branan Medical Corp., one of the firms named in the bribery scheme, settled a suit filed by the Attorney General’s office for $2 million. And in August 2017, Global Tel*Link, the nation’s largest prison telecom provider, agreed to settle the RICO lawsuit filed against it for $2.5 million while admitting no wrongdoing. [See: PLN, Oct. 2017, p.16; Oct. 2015, p.42].

Hood announced on November 29, 2017 that a third company had settled. Sentinel Offender Services, LLC, which provides electronic monitoring, paid $1.3 million to resolve the litigation. “As a company that continues to contract with the state, Sentinel Offender Services agreed to cooperate and settle the case for $1.3 million on a $2 million contract,” the Attorney General said in a statement. “We successfully disgorged them of their ill-gotten profit and then some.”

The Sentinel settlement brought the total damages paid to Mississippi taxpayers to $5.8 million in connection with the Epps bribery scandal. The remaining lawsuits accuse out-of-state companies of using “consultants” to pay bribes and kickbacks to then-Commissioner Epps for the award and retention of contracts with the Mississippi DOC.

The most recent defendant to be sentenced in the scheme was Dr. Carl Reddix, who paid $187,500 in bribes on behalf of his company, Health Assurance, which had a medical services contract with the DOC. Dr. Reddix received six years in federal prison on December 15, 2017; he was also fined $15,000 and ordered to forfeit almost $1.3 million.