HRDC comment re sentencing of GTL Consultant for bribery
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Human Rights Defense Center DEDICATED TO PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS February 21, 2017 The Honorable Ajit Pai, Chairman Federal Communications Commission 445 12th St. S.W. Washington, D.C. 20554 Re: Ex Parte filing for WC Docket 12-375 Dear Chairman Pai: The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), publisher of Prison Legal News (PLN), respectfully submits this ex parte filing for WC Docket No. 12-375 regarding the abuse, corruption and lack of accountability by Inmate Calling Service (ICS) providers and corrections officials, and the critical need for the Commission to address this issue as part of comprehensive ICS reform. HRDC noted in a prior filing on this Docket 1 that Sam Waggoner, a paid consultant for Global Tel*Link (GTL), was charged in U.S. District Court on August 19, 2015 with bribing Christopher B. Epps, the former MDOC Commissioner and then-president of both the American Correctional Association and the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), to contract/retain GTL as the MDOC’s exclusive prison phone provider. 2 Mr. Waggoner pled guilty to all charges two days later and agreed to forfeit $200,000 to federal authorities, representing “the proceeds he obtained as a result of the illegal conduct.” Id. A judgment and commitment order was entered on January 27, 2017 finding Mr. Waggoner guilty of one count of bribery and committing him to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons for 60 months with an additional two years of supervised release. Mr. Waggoner was also fined $100,000 and required to forfeit $200,000 to the United States. Attachment 1 The reported compensation structure of criminal bribery under which GTL paid Mr. Waggoner incentivized him to secure contracts that resulted in the highest revenue possible, resulting in the price gouging of prisoners and their families. According to the charging document, “GTL paid 1 Human Rights Defense Center, Comment filed on WC Docket 12-375, filed October 5, 2015 at 1-2. United States of America v. Sam Waggoner, U.S.D.C. (S.D. Mississippi, Northern Division), Case No. 3:15-cr00069-HTW-FKB. 2 P.O. Box 1151 Lake Worth, FL 33460 Phone: 561-360-2523 Fax: 866-735-7136 email@example.com Page |2 the defendant, SAM WAGGONER, five (5) percent of the revenue generated by the inmate telephone services contracts it had with the State of Mississippi.” That is, the higher ICS rates that were charged, the more money Mr. Waggoner made from the revenue generated from prison phone calls. This is merely one example of the corruption that stems directly from the lack of oversight and transparency in the ICS industry. Other examples were included in our comments previously filed with the Commission related to prison phone services. 3 We continue to call on the Commission to use its subpoena power to further investigate the practice of ICS providers hiring “consultants” to lobby correctional agencies for exclusive monopoly contracts. In light of the Waggoner prosecution, at a minimum we restate our October 2015 request that the FCC require all ICS providers to identify all their paid consultants as well as their compensation structure. We also reiterate our request that all ICS providers be required to post all of their facility contracts, the rates and fees charged, and the payments they make to secure those monopoly contracts – including commission kickbacks, payments to consultants, campaign donations, etc. The Commission should not exempt ICS providers from having to disclose their criminal bribes, as was exposed in the case of Mr. Waggoner. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. HRDC looks forward to working with you to achieve comprehensive ICS reform that not only ends price gouging for prisoners and their families but also eliminates uncertainties in the market. Please let us know if there is anything we can do at this time to assist you in this effort. Sincerely, Paul Wright Executive Director, HRDC 3 Human Rights Defense Center, Comment filed on CC Docket 96-128, filed April 18, 2007 at 5-6; Human Rights Defense Center, Comment filed on CC Docket 96-128, filed Sept. 21, 2008. Attachment 1 Case 3:15-cr-00069-HTW-FKB Document 27 Filed 01/27/17 Page 1 of 7 Case 3:15-cr-00069-HTW-FKB Document 27 Filed 01/27/17 Page 2 of 7 Case 3:15-cr-00069-HTW-FKB Document 27 Filed 01/27/17 Page 3 of 7 Case 3:15-cr-00069-HTW-FKB Document 27 Filed 01/27/17 Page 4 of 7 Case 3:15-cr-00069-HTW-FKB Document 27 Filed 01/27/17 Page 5 of 7 Case 3:15-cr-00069-HTW-FKB Document 27 Filed 01/27/17 Page 6 of 7 Case 3:15-cr-00069-HTW-FKB Document 27 Filed 01/27/17 Page 7 of 7