JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - A judge sentenced Mississippi's former prison boss to nearly two decades behind bars.
Chris Epps admitted his role in a prison bribery scheme and has since helped identify several others involved. He pleaded guilty to money laundering and filing false tax returns.
Epps was referred to in court as one FBI special agent's "best source he's ever had" in his 15 years with the bureau. He went on to say he thinks they've squeezed all the blood out of that turnip.
In Epps own words, he's helped "drain the swamp". His attorney John Colette noted that when leaving court Wednesday.
"My client has cooperated," described Colette. "Made tapes, video, money, whatever. And there are several that have not been prosecuted. You don't know of some of them."
The government took that cooperation into consideration and recommended just 13 years, ten less than the maximum given his guilty pleas. But Epps actions in October wiped out that possibility.
"The Flowood incident was probably the dumbest mistake he's ever made," said Colette.
He violated the terms of his bond and tried to go back to his home that had already been forfeited. Because of that, Judge Henry Wingate didn't take the recommendation. Instead---giving him 19 years and 7 months. Colette says Epps has shown remorse.
"I've seen him now for almost two years and I've seen a change," said Epps. "And I think that he regrets it every day. We've talked about it in many different settings."
Epps gave his own statement in court today saying, "I made some stupid mistakes I will regret for the rest of my life." Epps also said "I'm truly sorry for what I've done."
But he may get away with less than the 19 years. He'll likely testify in other cases tied to the scheme that haven't gone to court yet. They can come back and reduce Epps' sentence based on that continued cooperation.
He will also get credit for time served.