Families of incarcerated inmates file lawsuit against Epps, others

FILE- In this April 11, 2016, file photo, former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps, right, walks to the federal courthouse in Jackson, Miss., for sentencing over bribery charges. Mark Longoria, the 53-year-old CEO of Drug Testing Corp., was charged Monday, July 25, in federal court in Jackson. The charge alleges Longoria, of Houston, sent nearly $230,000 to Brandon businessman Cecil McCrory with the intention of McCrory bribing then-Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — A federal class action lawsuit has been filed against former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps and others accused in a bribery scandal.

The plaintiffs are inmates and family members of dozens of people incarcerated behind bars across the state.

They are suing Epps, Global Tel Link Corporation, and businessman Sam Waggoner. GTL provides inmate calling services across the nation.

The complaint alleges that the defendants engaged in a criminal racketeering conspiracy though what the lawsuit describes as the “Mississippi Prison Phone Scam.”

The lawsuit says Waggoner worked for GTL for more than 20 years. The plaintiffs said GTL allegedly funneled bribes and kickbacks to Epps through Waggoner. It states that GTL was allowed to keep the inmate calling service contract without competitive bidding and charge exorbitant fees far exceeding market rates. Those rates were passed to the inmates and their families. Mississippi law requires bidding on certain contracts.

Epps and Waggoner are currently in federal custody. The complaint states that Waggoner testified that the idea for bribes and kickbacks originated with Epps.

The plaintiffs are seeking restitution, compensatory and punitive damages.


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