- Associated Press - Thursday, October 8, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A former Mississippi Department of Corrections parole officer is scheduled to plead guilty next week to federal charges that he took bribes.

The U.S. Attorney’s office announced Thursday that it had charged Andra L. Smith, a 44-year-old Canton resident.

The charge states Smith took bribes worth $5,000 or more from a parolee he was supervising in Hinds County from March through June. In exchange, prosecutors allege Smith let the parolee leave Mississippi to get a higher-paying job.

Prosecutors said Smith is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 16.

The case remained sealed Thursday in online records and it wasn’t immediately clear if Smith had a lawyer to speak for him. Smith faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Federal prosecutors also want Smith to forfeit his gains.

In a statement, Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher said his department became aware of allegations against Smith and referred them to the FBI.

“We have zero tolerance for corruption in any form by anyone with the Mississippi Department of Corrections,” Fisher said. “Such conduct is a disservice to the hardworking employees of the agency and the taxpayers of the state of Mississippi.”

Fisher took over the prison agency after former Commissioner Christopher Epps resigned in November in the face of federal bribery charges to which he later pleaded guilty. Others who have pleaded guilty say Epps demanded and received more than $1.6 million in bribes from contractors and consultants. Epps awaits sentencing. He faces up to 23 years in prison, fines of $750,000 and forfeiture of $2 million in assets.

Corrections Department spokeswoman Grace Simmons Fisher said Smith resigned July 19, the day before an administrative hearing had been scheduled. She said the department had earlier suspended Smith, who had worked as a parole and probation agent since September 2006. His last yearly salary was $36,568.

Fisher, who is not related to the commissioner, said the department learned of the allegations earlier this year. She wrote in an email that the department “has no reason to believe” that Smith took bribes from anyone else.

Sheila Wilbanks, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Gregory Davis, said Smith hasn’t been arrested, and instead was summoned to appear in court.


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