JACKSON, Miss. — The wife of a former Mississippi lawmaker pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges that she paid kickbacks to the state’s former corrections commissioner.
Court records show Teresa Malone of Carthage entered guilty pleas to conspiracy and bribery charges before U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate in Jackson.
Prosecutors say Malone paid kickbacks to then-Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps after Epps steered a $5,000-a-month consulting contract to Malone. Court records show she got more than $170,000, and paid Epps $1,000 to $1,750 regularly over almost four years.
Wingate set Malone’s sentencing for Jan. 10. She faces up to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $500,000, and forfeiture of money she received.
Malone is the wife of former state Rep. Bennett Malone, a Democrat who was the onetime chairman of the House Corrections Committee. Her husband, who is seriously ill, hasn’t been charged.
Jamie Franks, Malone’s lawyer, declined to comment after the plea hearing Wednesday.
Wingate had delayed Malone’s trial in January after Franks said she was suffering complications from a double lung transplant and undergoing periodic treatments in New Orleans for six months.
Epps acknowledged accepting more than $1.4 million in bribes from private contractors and is serving a nearly 20-year prison sentence. Seven other people have been convicted so far, while an eighth person, former Harrison County Supervisor William Martin, killed himself in 2015, hours before he was due in federal court on bribery charges.
Malone’s plea leaves only one unconvicted defendant remaining in the scandal, although prosecutors had promised additional indictments.
Insurance broker Guy “Butch” Evans of Jackson has pleaded not guilty to kicking back part of his insurance commissions to Epps by making cash payments of $1,400 to $1,700 a month from January 2013 to May 2014. That’s at least $23,800 Evans is accused of passing to Epps.
Evans faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000 if convicted. Evans’ trial had been set for June, but has been delayed.