/More delays in Epps bribery case

More delays in Epps bribery case

U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate has set a new court date of June 29 for the long-delayed sentencing proceedings against Epps and Cecil McCrory, Rankin County businessman/former legislator. Wingate stated that the defense had not had an opportunity to examine these records and would allow defense teams more time for them to challenge financial documents being subpoenaed. John Colette, Epps’ chief lawyer, stated after the hearing that he will use the additional time to plan for Epps. Both plead guilty to the charges in February. McCrory’s lawyer, Carlos Tanner, of Jackson, reiterated Thursday that he intends to withdraw McCrory’s guilty plea. According to the government, any additional indictments will be closed by the hearing on June 29. Thursday’s hearing was scheduled for Wingate to hear corporate executives and financial officials about whether Epps misconduct resulted any “net benefits” to their contracts with Mississippi Department of Corrections. Darren Lamarca, Assistant U.S. attorney, declined to disclose the amount of money the government spent to bring corporate officials from Texas, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., South Florida, and other local offices to Jackson. McCrory and Epps were both arrested on multiple charges in August 2014. They conspired to allow McCrory to obtain prison vending business while Epps would receive bribes. Epps was also accused of illegally structuring financial transactions in order to avoid the IRS’ attention. Although Wingate was initially told by the prosecution that the state lost at least $300 million from the scheme, the estimate rose to over $800 million in April. This led to evidence gathering for Thursday’s hearing. Epps pleaded guilty in two counts: conspiring to conceal bribes in order to avoid detection, and filing a false income tax report to under-report his income. The government stipulated that Epps would not be sentenced to more than 23 years imprisonment and a maximum of $500,000 in fines and restitution. McCrory pleaded guilty for the one-count of concealing his bribes from Epps. McCrory faces a maximum of 20 years imprisonment and a similar fine and restitution as the court.