Slabbed explores the almost completed Jackson County Adult Detention Center – Introduction

The last time Slabbed began chasing a lead that ended up uncovering a huge number of what I’ll term rabbit trails into the brier patch was the massive political corruption scandal in Jefferson Parish back in 2010. I mention this because earlier this year I received a tip which mentioned a significant ramp up of of FBI agents and resources in Mississippi with Jackson being ground zero. A few months later through a completely unrelated source and by happenstance I was able to confirm the first tip. The question to me then became one of the focus of the FBIs interests and we’ve been treated in the news to several tantalizing clues the most recent being our State Auditor according to the Clarion Ledger. I think we can piece several things together and arrive at a reasonable answer and to begin we start with a story today by Greg Gordon of McClatchy DC that appeared in today’s Sun Herald. Gordon’s presence on the scene is significant because he is the Sun Herald’s parent corp’s best financial fraud reporter and what appeared today makes a nice starting point for the coming Slabbed series on the construction of the Jackson County ADC:

In Waveland, federal auditors unnerved local officials by finding a contractor hired to build a temporary sewer system double-billed the city $811,000 for 379 pumps already covered by the contract and improperly charged $608,000 more for 290 more sewage-storage tanks that weren’t part of the agreement.

And who was this contractor?

Waveland’s predicament, however, underscores a central reality for watchdogs who have sought to ensure the fair and efficient expenditures of tax dollars: In Mississippi, one of the nation’s poorest states, most jurisdictions lack the money to repay questioned costs.

“There’s no way, practically, for (the city) to repay that money,” said Gary Yarborough, Waveland’s city attorney. The city’s population has dropped from 8,000 to about 6,000, and its fiscal year budget is $4.2 million, he said.

City officials told federal examiners they’d alerted state auditors years ago that the firm contracted to build the sewage system, Hemphill Construction Co. of Florence, had overcharged for the project. But FEMA has so far chosen to pursue the city rather than the company, Yarborough said.

Waveland’s appeal for relief from FEMA is pending. Hemphill’s president, Richard Rula, did not respond to a phone message.

Hemphill was ubiquitous in Hancock County in the years after the storm and there are reasons for that. The section of Central Avenue in Waveland between Coleman Avenue and Nicholson occasionally makes me question whether the company should have been in the road and infrastructure rebuilding business at all. At the end of the day the companies that seemingly came out of nowhere after the Hurricane to nab rebuild contracts traces to an old political feud between then Senator Trent Lott and then Prez Geroge Bush. Jeb Bush was Florida’s governor at the time. With the political players set lets hit the way back machine and set the dial for April 2006 and Bloomberg Business Magazine:

Cashing In On The Katrina Cleanup

The Mississippi Choctaw Indians are looking for another way to work Washington — this time, through the Pentagon. You remember the Choctaws: The wealthy tribe got national notice last year as one of Jack Abramoff’s biggest clients, paying the disgraced Republican lobbyist and his business partners more than $27.6 million to sway lawmakers on gaming issues. In Abramoff’s recent plea agreement, he admitted to bribing members of Congress by funneling millions from the Choctaws and other tribes through charities.

Now the Choctaws are poised to receive a $300 million no-bid federal contract for post-Katrina cleanup in Mississippi. They are bereft of Abramoff’s counsel: He was sentenced on Mar. 29 to nearly six years in prison and faces up to 30 more years for the charges involving the Choctaws. Yet the tribe has capitalized on contracting laws that favor Native Americans and on Congress’ political pressure to steer Hurricane Katrina cleanup cash to home state companies. According to e-mails and documents reviewed by BusinessWeek, top Republicans led by Mississippi Senator Trent Lott have been leaning on the Army Corps of Engineers to replace AshBritt Inc., the big cleanup contractor based in Pompano Beach, Fla., with smaller home state firms.

And beyond cleanup there was rebuilding to do and luckily for everyone there are several smaller companies in Misissippi that do nothing but infrastructure type work. Most of that work in Harrison County went to SH Anthony Construction. In Hancock County Hemphill was king. Sean Anthony, owner of SH Anthony currently awaits his sentencing related to a plea bargain he reached with Federal Prosecutors, which has been postponed until October along with that of former Harrison County Sup Kim Savant, who copped a plea to bribery charges involving Anthony.

Savant was also involved in the specious Tommy Cobb Ocean Springs High School dirt contract that Slabbed highlighted last month. Left on the cutting room floor at the time is the fact Slabbed New Media has confirmed via multiple sources the FBI has also been poking around that old contract. Mostly though, the G-Men have been poking around the Jackson County Adult Detention Center and with the benefit of hindsight I can understand why so I conclude today’s installment with April Havens circa January 2011 and her story New Jackson County jail option may be on the table:

PASCAGOULA, Miss. — A second design for a new Jackson County Adult Detention Center could be back on the table this week after supervisors received a proposal for a nontraditional circular facility.

The second option comes from Southeastern Composite Systems in Belmont, Miss., who has built five jails in the state using a steel-reinforced composite dome material.

Supervisor Tommy Brodnax said Pryor and Morrow, the contracted firm that has already completed an approved design of the jail, has developed a plan that the county needs to follow.

“They’re doing the design that our sheriff has approved,” Brodnax said. “It’s a real jail, not some makeshift jail.”

But other supervisors are open to at least considering the product.

The manufacturer of the domes approached Florence-based Hemphill Construction Co., Pascagoula Mayor Robbie Maxwell said, and asked for Hemphill’s help in getting a proposal to supervisors.

Hemphill then asked Maxwell’s business, Maxwell-Walker Consulting Group, for help submitting the information to the board. The consulting firm is made up of Maxwell and Ocean Springs businessman Scott Walker.

“This thing has the potential to save some money, and we felt obligated from that standpoint to bring it to the supervisors,” Maxwell said. “What they do with the information is up to them.”

Hemphill reported the circular design could save the county $8 million to $10 million on construction and long-term maintenance costs, Supervisor John McKay said at Monday’s board meeting.

The dome building could save up to 50 percent on utilities compared to Pryor and Morrow’s brick and mortar design, the five-page proposal said. It would also save on manpower and be better protected from hurricane-force winds, it claimed.

Haven’s piece is jam packed with information the best being the subterfuge. Subterfuge?? Well sure because Southeastern Composites was partially owned by Hemphill owner Richard Rula, a fact I do not see disclosed in Haven’s article, likely because it was not mentioned:

Click to obtain 3 page PDF
Click to obtain 3 page PDF

Next up Slabbed rolls out more players, explains how some of the gang is related and begins a true-up of the total cost of the jail and it isn’t the number being rolled around in the local media, which is understated by several million dollars. Stay tuned.

15 thoughts on “Slabbed explores the almost completed Jackson County Adult Detention Center – Introduction”

  1. Well hallelujah!!! Maybe someone up there in Washington has been awakened!!! And thank you Doug for laying out the players and how this State has been robbed, and the working people have been trampled on due to some high-powered political war.
    I am so happy that this is finally coming to light. I have given hints (and more) along the way, but had no hopes of any of it every truly coming to light because everyone here in Mississippi seem suddenly to all have wide yellow stripes down their backs. We have been rolled over by a huge steam roller and it is time that whoever was involved to be tarred and feathered.
    Thank you again…please keep the truth coming so that the people can see what has been done to us in the name of politicos.
    BTW, which side is Fat-a$$ on between the two powerballs? And if SnottyToddy Walker is a Trent Lott man, then why is he so cozy with Georgie Bush??? All are arrogant and power seeking imo.

  2. P. S. I guess you know that poor old Scott Walker was hoping to get some “home time” with his family, and now you done gone and caused him to be in the spotlight again. Poor old thing is so mistreated, and now he is going to have to miss all of those Ole Miss games and Hotty Toddy in his cell all by himself and his cellmate, Bubba.

  3. I think I posted this before.

    Little Pig Feeding Frenzy

    I always thought Epps appearing at the Jackson County Supervisors meeting early in 2011 to push a jail design smelled like home cooking. Add in that he was shilling the same concept that Maxwell Walker were, those type of things are indicia.

    1. True dat. Just a question of how far the investigation will reach. Epps is singing like a canary IMHO.

      1. Things to think about:

        What was it that brought the feds to MDOC and the Epps and McCrory operation? Was it through the Maxwell Walker DMR gang and possibly thus then to Epps and McCrory (and others yet unknown?)? Or was it through the Walnut Grove convictions and thus to McCrory and Epps? If it’s the former then one wonders who are the the targets the feds need McCrory and Epps for? (There are some other ways this could have happened-I think these are the most interesting right now).

        At last report both Epps and McCrory are cooperating and the sentencings scheduled for May are delayed indefinitely.

        At the link: Why would Stacey Pickering be commenting/predicting on this? To get out in front of the delays in collecting the restitution? Possibly he can’t cut a dime on the dollar deal with the perps until they are sentenced?

        1. I heard a rumor that Scott Walker had a jailhouse conversion but if you put that on a timeline it does not make sense on the surface since I was also previously told he blew his “Queen for a day” chance after he copped his plea. There is no way to know for sure as I could have been fed a line of BS.

          All that said I suspect Walnut Grove was the catalyst. It would make more sense that once Scott Walker figured out what was unraveling at MDOC he’d experience a jailhouse conversion since on the surface he has exposure if any bribes were paid.

          That is a lot of if, ands, buts and suppositions but this is what has been driving my thought process on that question.

            1. In my opinion it represents the worse form of human exploitation (youth offenders no less) for profit. Here are some links to get you started:

              Investigation, Lawsuit Expose Barbaric Conditions at For-Profit Youth Prison in Mississippi ~ Southern Poverty Law Center

              Along the same lines:

              Private Prison For Juveniles In Mississippi Plagued By Violence, Despite Federal Settlement ~ Huff Po

              America’s 10 Worst Prisons: Walnut Grove ~ Mother Jones

              Private prison group ends contracts with Mississippi ~ Friends of Justice

              Now more recently:

              MDOC Scandal Highlights Privatization Problems ~ Jackson Free Press

              Malone Suddenly Retires ~ Jackson Jambalaya

              The profiteering and corruption goes back to the Musgrove Administration. I’m going to try to find some old WSJ stories on those private prison contracts back when he was Governor. I’ve had a general awareness of the issue ever since. In that respect this does not surprise me.

              You take certain bad aspects of the private prison service industry that have surfaced in the media this year in Mississippi and multiply it by about 82 counties. William Martin has plenty of company IMHO. Geographically the scandal literally stretches from the Coast all the way to the Tennessee state line.

  4. I second that hallelujah!!!! All I can say is it’s about time the new Jackson County ADC’s can of worms was opened for all to see. In the end ex-Sheriff Byrd will be vindicated because he knew what they were up to. After the firing of Pryor and Morrow at the request of John McKay, he washed his hands of this corrupt mess and refused to participate any longer. McKay hijacked the jail project in 2012 and moved it in the direction of the wishes of his real bosses at Maxwell-Walker. Chris Epps involvement came at the request of Scott Walker and the Hemphill owners.They used Supervisor Harris as a pawn to get the now convicted Epps to Jackson County, where he became a salesman. Maxwell-Walker was Hemphill’s consultant in Jackson,Harrison And Hancock County. They got the Goldberg Architects fired because that firm would not play ball and approve the inferior product Walker’s clients were proposing to provide. This same inferior product, the cells being provided by Bear Corrections aka Southeastern Composites aka Hemphill, is what got installed at the new ADC. The taxpayers of Jackson County are getting a giant metal building that looks like crap for more than what an attractive brick and concrete structure would have cost. Why? Because John McKay,Troy Ross and Barry Cumbest voted yes to allow it. Just go back and read the many Ms.Press articles and see for yourself. Once McKay got his man Ross elected they started to do what Walker was being paid for and that was to get the completed design by Pryor and Morrow ($1,200,000 pd) thrown out and get his client in. This could not have happened without the votes of Troy Ross and Barry Cumbest. Remember the taxpayers are getting far less for more. I hope now we can expose those that participated in this “PRETEND TO SAVE MONEY” scam. Chris Epps is working hard to minimize his time behind bars. He is going to rat out the other rats. Maybe Scott Walker will get home just in time to be indicted again for what went on behind closed doors pertaining to the Jackson County ADC. Thank you for pulling back the covers on another mess the taxpayers will be responsible for.

    1. Bear Corrections is not Hemphill as far as I could determine. The commonality is David Deaton, the guy who approached Hemphill’s Richard Rula and enlisted him to get Maxwell Walker’s help. Through all the gyrations it appears Deaton and Rula went their separate ways per the corporate record at SOS. This is part 2.

      1. Bear Corrections is not Hemphill as far as I could determine. The commonality is David Deaton

        But Bear Corrections IS the Deatons.

        MS SOS:
        Bear Corrections, Inc. 943925 Business Corporation Good Standing 01/23/2009

        Bear Corrections, Inc. Legal
        Business Information
        Business Type: Profit Corporation
        Business ID: 943925
        Status: Good Standing
        Effective Date: 01/23/2009
        State of Incorporation: Mississippi
        Principal Office Address:

        Registered Agent
        Deaton, David
        37 3Rd St;P O Box 1096
        Belmont, MS 38827

        Officers & Directors
        Name Title
        Joseph C Hall
        Post Office Box 885
        Belmont, MS 38827 Incorporator

        David Dean Deaton II
        PO Box 1096
        Belmont, MS 38827 Director, Secretary

        One more step- check out the short lived Gulf Coast Consultants LLC:

        MSSOS again

        Name Name Type
        Gulf Coast Consultants, LLC Legal
        Business Information
        Business Type: Limited Liability Company
        Business ID: 980028
        Status: Dissolved
        Effective Date: 03/14/2011
        State of Incorporation: Mississippi
        Principal Office Address: NO PRINCIPAL OFFICE ADDRESS FOUND

        Registered Agent
        Walker, Scott Jared
        104 Temple Terrace
        Ocean Springs, MS 39564

        Officers & Directors
        Name Title
        Scott Jared Walker
        104 Temple Terrace
        Ocean Springs, MS 39564 Member

        David Dean Deaton II
        PO Box 696
        Belmont, MS 38827 Member

        Of course the dates of formation sometimes provide additional clues.

        There’s a passel of dead skunks! In the road, under the jail, under the tables in the boardrooms at SRHS, the DMR…and the Jackson County Supervisors.

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