JACKSON, Miss. (KLFY) — One of the four Louisiana businessmen who bribed a Mississippi corrections official and a county sheriff in 2014 has finally been sentenced.
Michael LeBlanc, Sr., 74, of Baton Rouge was sentenced to 24 months in prison, a $50,000 fine and two years of supervised release under probation following the served prison sentence. The sentencing was delayed from its originally scheduled date of Feb. 10, 2020 due the the COVID pandemic.
LeBlanc was one of four men who pleaded guiilty to the scheme. LeBlanc, Tawasky Ventroy, 63, of Opelousas, Michael LeBlanc, Jr., 45, of Prairieville and Jacque Jackson, 54, of LaPlace conspired to pay bribes to former Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) Commissioner Christopher B. Epps and current Kemper County (Miss.) Sheriff James Moore in exchange for receiving contracts involving MDOC and a regional detention facility located in Kemper County.
Epps and Moore were both assisting the FBI at the time of the investigation.
“I want to thank Sheriff Moore who made the conscious effort to help the FBI in combating public corruption,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Sutphin. “Corruption of public officials at any level is something that we take very seriously and is one of our top criminal priorities.”
The four men paid the bribes in an attempt to secure lucrative contracts in commissary and inmate calling services. The men were associated with Brothers Commissary Services and American Phone Systems, both located in Louisiana but operating in the state of Mississippi.
U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate handed down the sentence Monday. Wingate said he considered LeBlanc’s age, criminal history, ongoing health issues and business success in determining his sentence. LeBlanc had no criminal history, is currently being treated for skin cancer, is suffering from long COVID after having the infection twice and a recent CAT scan revealed a tumor on his left kidney.
The judge also called it ironic that parties participated in a criminal conspiracy involving criminal institutions.
The other three defendants in the case will be sentenced at a later date. They each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.