CHARLIE MITCHELL: Judge Wingate says Chris Epps no small-time offender

There’s no way to know what former Mississippi Commissioner of Corrections Christopher Epps expected when he walked into court — at last — to hear his sentence, but the nearly 20-year term imposed by U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate must have come as a surprise.

Prosecutors had recommended 13 years, and Epps’ attorney was hoping for less. Letters to the judge from legislators asked for leniency, perhaps no prison time at all.

Yet Wingate stood his ground, voiced outrage.

“This is the largest graft operation in the state of Mississippi, definitely the largest I have seen,” the judge said. “Mr. Epps betrayed the state of Mississippi.”

Clarion Ledger