November 6, 2014

Commissioner of Mississippi Department of Corrections and Local Businessman Indicted by Federal Grand Jury

JACKSON, MS—Christopher B. Epps, former Commissioner for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, and Cecil McCrory, a former Mississippi legislator, former Justice Court Judge, former Chairman of the Rankin County School Board, and a local businessman, were arraigned today before U.S. Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball on a 49-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Harold Brittain, FBI Special Agent in Charge Donald Alway, IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Gabriel L. Grchan, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss, and Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering.



Honest Services

Wire Fraud Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 1349

20 years $250,000 3 years


(Epps only)


18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(B)

10 years $250,000 3 years


(McCrory only)


18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(2)

10 years $250,000 3 years

Money Laundering Conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 1956(h)

20 years greater of twice the value of property involved or $500,000 3 years

Honest Services

Wire Fraud

18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 1346

20 years $250,000 3 years

Illegal Structuring of Financial Transactions

31 U.S.C. § 5324(a)(3)

5 years  $250,000 $100,000

Money Laundering

18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i)

20 years greater of twice the value of property involved or $500,000 3 years

Filing False Tax Returns

26 U.S.C. § 7206(2)

3 years $100,000 1 year


According to the indictment, from 2007 through March 2014, McCrory gave Epps bribes and kickbacks in exchange for Epps awarding or directing the award of MDOC contracts, leases, or work to McCrory’s companies or to companies employing McCrory as a consultant. McCrory secretly paid Epps either in cash, through checks paying off Epps’s home mortgage, through wire transfers paying the loan on Epps’s beach condominium, or through wire transfers to investment accounts owned by Epps. Epps illegally structured the deposits of cash received from McCrory into Epps’s various bank accounts, or used such cash to purchase cashier’s checks, all in amounts less than $10,000. This structuring alone reached almost $1 million from January 2008 through June 2014. Epps further concealed these crimes by filing false tax returns from 2008 through 2013, whereby he failed to report such income on his tax returns.

In addition, the government has placed a lien on and is seeking to forfeit Epps’s home in Flowood, Mississippi, and his condominium in Pass Christian, Mississippi. The government also seized Epps’s 2010 Mercedes Benz S550 and 2007 Mercedes Benz S65 V12 a.m.G, as well as almost $1 million in cash from various bank and investment accounts controlled by Epps.

Harold Brittain, the Acting U.S. Attorney in this case, stated: “The abuse of power and position by public officials has plagued our state for many years. Our tolerance for public corruption is zero. We will hold accountable under the law everyone who bears the responsibility of public service and sells the trust that has been bestowed upon them. We will not tolerate such fraud and abuses by public officials that have cost our citizens so dearly.”

“By statute, the FBI is charged with the investigation of public officials alleged to abuse their positions for private gain,” stated Donald Alway, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi. “This remains a top priority. Mississippi has the right to expect honest, unbiased service and representation from its elected and/or appointed officials at all levels of government. The FBI will continue to work in cooperation with its federal, state, and local partners to identify, investigate, and prosecute those who would violate the public’s trust.”

IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Gabriel L. Grchan said: “Quite often crimes of greed include more than concealing income from the IRS. This case is a prime example of how Special Agents of IRS Criminal Investigation work with the FBI, the United States Attorney’s Office and local law enforcement to bring individuals who have violated the public’s trust to justice. We will continue to work tirelessly with our partners to stop those individuals who scheme and conspire with each other to benefit themselves to the detriment of other citizens and their government. This case should send a strong message to the citizens of Mississippi, and those engaged in public corruption, that there is no place to hide and justice will ultimately be served. “

“Postal Inspectors have a long history of relentlessly pursuing those who use the mail in schemes to defraud the public, and public corruption cases like this are particularly troubling,” said U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss. “We are grateful to have been able to lend our unique expertise to investigate the fraud and to track down assets the defendants allegedly attempted to steal from the American people.”

The Mississippi Office of the State Auditor assisted with the investigation. Commenting on the indictments, State Auditor Stacey Pickering said, “It is a very sad day in Mississippi when two men with a history of public service are charged with blatantly committing crimes to increase their personal fortunes. They are accused of deliberately violating public trust while serving in positions of leadership. This case is a textbook example of state, local and federal officials working together to protect taxpayer money.”

In announcing the indictment, Acting U.S. Attorney Harold Brittain, FBI Special Agent in Charge Donald Alway, IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Gabriel L. Grchan, U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss, and Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering praised the efforts of special agents with the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigations, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Mississippi State Auditor’s Office, as well as the Leake County Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mike Hurst, Darren LaMarca, and Scott Gilbert, as well as financial analyst Kim Mitchell, are prosecuting the case.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.