Every aspect of Mississippi’s prison system was turned into a profit center by Former MDOC head Chris Epps and a bevy of corrupt politicians across the state.
I am hearing some of the indictments the Feds have promised Judge Wingate up in Jackson related to the Epps investigation that are due to be unsealed by next Monday includes some that will be unveiled in Gulfport. Indictment rumors, even those supported by a substantial amount of facts can still be unreliable so I’ll also add there could be some confusion between Epps related indictments and another, more coast centric investigation rollout such as the one involving the newly constructed Jackson County jail.
If the coming Epps indictments have coastal connections as rumored, I can easily think of a couple of former elected officials in both Hancock and Jackson Counties that may have received target letters. If the indictments are Jackson County jail related, speculation centers both on a certain contractor and certain former elected officials.
As Monday draws closer the chatter is certain to gain more specificity if the rumored coastal connection to the coming Epps related indictments are accurate.
Over the past 5 months I’ve collected a massive amount of information as it relates to the Chris Epps investigation including the construction of the new jail in Jackson County along with certain service contracts that cut across a wider geographic region. To catch everyone back up former MDOC Executive Director Chris Epps along with his self-admitted partner-in-crime Cecil McCrory had their own sentences delayed indefinitely by Judge Wingate while the Feds sort everything at MDOC out, ostensibly with Epps and McCrory’s full cooperation. I’m going to hate myself for disclosing this but I have reason to believe the FBI has visited every Sheriff in the State in regards to the Epps/MDOC investigation. This in turn sheds more color on the significant ramp up in Federal investigative resources in Jackson last summer that Slabbed previously disclosed. [link] [link].
The reason I’ll hate myself for disclosing the Sheriff visits is because it came from a source that I can’t use which means I’m asking you folks to make a small leap of faith. The bottom line here is that by now it stands to reason the federal investigation has greatly narrowed in scope.
Meantime here on the coast rumors of continued FBI interest surrounding the construction of the Jackson County Adult Detention Center persist. Those rumors center on Chris Epps, one of the primary jail contractors and a former Jackson County Supervisor. Continue reading “I forgot to mention”
Waggoner was charged by Criminal Information with one count of bribery related to his payments of bribes and kickbacks to Epps from sometime in 2012 until at least August 26, 2014. According to the Criminal Information, Waggoner was a consultant for Global Tel-Link (GTL), which provided telephone services at MDOC facilities. The Criminal Information cites two specific instances in 2014 where Waggoner paid Epps kickbacks from money Waggoner received from GTL as a consultant.
The use of local CONsultants (aka Buffers) by the business community as a conduit for bribery schemes to get government business is nothing new folks. And when you couple the doings in Jackson with Sean Anthony’s sentence being delayed twice in successive months (September delay link – October delay link) with Anthony’s sentencing essentially postponed indefinitely one is very safe in assuming there is much more to come as rumors continue to swirl surrounding Anthony’s former company and a former state wide public official.
I guess all this is long winded way of saying the Feds are not done poking around in local doings including the construction of the recently named Jackson County Jail which according to water cooler talk in the investigative community has the FBI looking closely at an elected official along with one of the jail’s contractors.
None of this will completely unfold by the end of the year but the my crystal ball tells me the odds are very good we will see additional news hit the cycle on at least one of the three items mentioned above before year end.
I ended part one with the emergence of then Pascagoula Mayor Robbie Maxwell and Scott Walker touting a cheaper jail solution to an incomplete architectural jail design which had not yet been bid at the time Walker and Maxwell appeared before the County Board of Sups. Remember folks this went down in January 2011, the start of an election year. Maxwell Walker must have had a hard time getting traction for David Deaton and Richard Rula of Hemphill, two of the three parties behind Southeastern Composites because a few months later the now disgraced Chris Epps appeared before the County Board of Supervisors touting a hub and spoke prison design of the type Deaton had experience in previously constructing in a “spoke” dome county jail for Tishomingo County in 2006, then as President of a company called Composite Building Systems. Today David Dean Deaton II is no longer associated with the company except as registered agent, where he is listed on the Mississippi Secretary of State database as Dean Deaton.
So folks, let’s start a timeline:
January 24, 2011 – Maxwell Walker appear at Board of Supervisors meeting touting cheaper alternative to a jail which was still in the design phase on behalf of a new client, which is owned by Richard Rula of Hemphill Construction and David Deaton.
April 2011 – MDOC Executive Director Chris Epps appears before the Jackson County Board of Supervisors touting the design being pushed by Maxwell-Walker Consultants.
April 16, 2011 – OpEd column written by Supervisor Tommy Brodnax appears in the Mississippi Press under the title “Commissioner Epps should butt out of jail plans” Broadnax points the finger squarely at Maxwell Walker in this very public letter to then Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour:
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: Continue reading “Slabbed explores the almost completed Jackson County Adult Detention Center – Introduction”
He claims that home confinement would be fine too but before he goes back into the consulting business with a local sitting politician we need to hash out a thing or two starting with that brand spanking new Jackson County Adult Detention Center from where the stench of a steaming pile of Maxwell-Walker scat still emanates. Jackson County still has too many CONsultants on the loose as it stands.