By Geoff Pender | Clarion-Ledger | November 14, 2014
| Rep. David Baria (D-Bay St. Louis)
(Photo: Special to The Clarion-Ledger)
State Rep. David Baria wants legislative hearings on who knew what and when they knew it about a corruption investigation of prisons chief Chris Epps.
"Why was such a powerful official who was under intense scrutiny for years allowed to remain in his position?" said Baria, D-Waveland. He questions why Epps was reappointed "even while he was under intensive investigation by at least one state agency, according to reports."
Epps is accused of running one of the largest and longest criminal conspiracies in state history, starting with corrections contract kickbacks in 2007 and tainting potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in state spending.
Gov. Phil Bryant, who reappointed Epps when he took office in 2012, says he knew nothing of the investigation or allegations about Epps.
"Sadly, the MDOC scandal is not an isolated incident of government corruption in our state," Baria said. "It is just the latest example of a larger trend of corruption and cronyism in Mississippi government over the past decade. From the Department of Marine Resources scandal that resulted in multiple federal convictions to a former state representative being for to resign for steering state contracts to his family business, there is a disturbing trend of political appointments and state contracts being used to enrich the politically well-connected."
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