Making corruption expensive

Attorney General Jim Hood has sent a stern and needed message to those who do business with Mississippi.

Be careful who you hire to try to secure these contracts. If they’re crooked, they could cost you dearly.

Hood announced last month that the state had settled with 11 companies that used consultants to try to influence Chris Epps, the now notorious bribe-taker who formerly headed up Mississippi’s Department of Corrections. The companies, most all of which claimed they had no idea the bribery was going on, are having to fork out almost $27 million in all.

Maybe these contractors were as ignorant as they claim, or maybe they took the Sergeant Schultz approach to the shady deal-making: “I see nothing. I hear nothing. I know nothing.”

Good for Hood for not letting the companies off the hook. Maybe they were not in on the fraud, but they certainly benefitted from it.

Some of the settlements require the companies to pay the state three to fives times the profit they made on the ill-gotten contracts. That should get their attention and that of a lot of other vendors, too.


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