Ex-Mississippi corrections commissioner, businessman each plead not guilty in bribery scheme

JACKSON, Miss. – Mississippi’s former corrections commissioner has pleaded not guilty to accepting more than $1 million in bribes, and a businessman has pleaded not guilty to making such payments.

Former commissioner Christopher Epps and Cecil McCrory of Brandon pleaded Thursday in U.S. District Court in Jackson. The judge set a Jan. 5 trial date and released both men on $25,000 unsecured bond.

Epps is charged with 35 felony counts and McCrory with 15 felony counts. Among the charges are conspiracy, bribery and money laundering.

Prosecutors say Epps accepted bribes and steered hundreds of millions in contracts to firms that paid McCrory, who kicked back cash to Epps.

Epps resigned Wednesday.

McCrory, who served two terms in the state House and is a former judge, was a school board president until resigning Tuesday.