Former Mississippi lawmaker expected to plead guilty in prison bribery case

FILE PHOTO Former state Sen. Irb Benjamin, who was charged last year in a bribery scandal centering on former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps. walks to the federal courthouse for a hearing in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, June 9, 2016. The hearing is on evidence of how much the bribes taken by Epps cost Mississippi's taxpayers. That determination, in turn, will influence how long Epps spends in prison for money laundering and filing false tax returns related to $1.4 million in bribes prosecutors say he took. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – A former state senator is expected to become the sixth person to plead guilty in Mississippi’s prison contract bribery scandal.

Irb Benjamin has filed notice through his lawyer that he plans to plead guilty Oct. 18 before U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate.

Indicted in August 2015, Benjamin is charged with paying bribes to former Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps. Brandon businessman Cecil McCrory and Epps pleaded guilty to charges connected to the bribery scheme in February 2015, but still await sentencing. Three others have also pleaded guilty to charges in the case.

Benjamin faces three separate criminal charges. Friday’s filing by Benjamin’s lawyer, Joe Hollomon, doesn’t make clear to which charges his client plans to plead guilty.

The indictment against Benjamin charges that he bribed Epps in exchange for contracts at two prison work centers, as well as consulting contracts with county jails in Alcorn, Washington and Chickasaw counties.

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Follow Jeff Amy at: http://twitter.com/jeffamy. Read his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/jeff-amy

 

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