The Latest: Ex-prisons chief co-defendant to withdraw plea

AP News
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Posted: Apr 11, 2016 12:07 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on a court hearing about a prison contract bribery (all times local):

10:50 a.m.

A lawyer for a co-defendant of former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps wants to withdraw his guilty plea in a bribery case.

Carlos Tanner, a lawyer for businessman Cecil McCrory, said during Monday's hearing he intends to file a motion to withdraw McCrory's guilty plea and go to trial.

The former prisons chief pleaded guilty in February 2015 to money laundering and filing false tax returns related to $1.47 million in bribes prosecutors say he took. Epps sentencing has been delayed again by disputes between prosecutors and his lawyers about how to determine the value of Epps' crimes

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate reset Epps' sentencing date to July 18. Prosecutors say they're seeking records from companies to which Epps awarded contracts, trying to determine how much those companies might have benefited.

The sentencing was also delayed because prosecutors say a federal grand jury is considering indictments against others involved in bribing Epps.

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3:45 a.m.

Former Mississippi Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps could get up to 23 years in prison when a judge sentences him Monday.

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate is scheduled to decide how long Epps will be locked up. The former prisons chief pleaded guilty in February 2015 to money laundering and filing false tax returns related to $1.47 million in bribes prosecutors say he took.

Epps has already agreed to forfeit $1.7 million in assets, including cash, brokerage accounts, a house, a beachfront condo and two luxury cars.

Defense lawyer John Colette told Wingate in January that he was seeking to drive down the government sentencing recommendation from the maximum 23 years. Wingate could accept the government recommendation, or sentence Epps to some other length of imprisonment.