Former Miss. state senator pleads guilty to bribery in prison contract scandal

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 has pleaded guilty in Mississippi’s prison contract bribery scandal.

Irb Benjamin of Madison pleaded guilty to one count of bribery Tuesday morning before U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate in Jackson.

Benjamin admitted in court that he paid bribes to former Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps to obtain contracts at state prison work centers and county jails. 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 on related charges.

Wingate says he will sentence Benjamin Jan. 24. Benjamin faces up to 10 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. Prosecutors also want him to forfeit money he gained.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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