(Photo: John Fitzhugh/Sun Herald)
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged Coast business consultant Robert Simmons with bribery for allegedly paying thousands in kickbacks from 2005 until 2014 to former state Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps and an unnamed Harrison County supervisor.
Both Epps and former Harrison County Supervisor William Martin have been charged in the corruption case. Epps pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money and filing a false tax return, but his sentencing has been delayed indefinitely. Martin, a longtime state prosecutor before he was elected supervisor, committed suicide almost a year ago — hours before he was due in federal court to answer charges of accepting bribes.
Simmons is accused of taking hefty consulting fees from companies doing business with the Mississippi Department of Corrections or Harrison County, then paying a portion as kickbacks to Epps or a Harrison County supervisor. The time frame in the charge filed against Simmons dovetails those in Martin’s case.