Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of a woman who submitted a false insurance claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
Letticia Valerie White, 39, of Brookhaven, was arrested in Hazlehurst Tuesday by Investigator Michael Stevens with the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau. White was charged with one count false pretense after being indicted by the Claiborne County Grand Jury for failing to disclose a knee injury and treatment, which occurred approximately two weeks prior to the date she submitted a workers’ compensation claim alleging she injured her knee at work. The indictment alleges she obtained more than $500 from New Hampshire Insurance Company by making these false claims.
White was booked into the Claiborne County Jail with bond set at $5,000 after her arraignment Thursday. The Copiah County Sheriff’s Office assisted in her arrest.
If convicted, White faces up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. A charge is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case was investigated by Stevens and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Robert “Bob” Anderson with the AG’s Public Integrity Division.
Attorney General Jim Hood joined 49 other state and territorial attorneys general in a bi-partisan coalition urging Congress to affirm that all law-enforcement agencies retain their traditional authority to fight sex trafficking, including online.
In a letter to Congress, the attorneys general ask Members to amend the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which was designed to encourage the growth of the internet by promoting free expression, particularly on online message boards. However, while the bill intended to allow companies who sponsor message boards to remain immune to repercussions from inappropriate posts, the bill instead opens the door for corporations to make money off of dangerous posts through advertisements without an obligation to remove the content. According to the attorneys general, the CDA is being used as a shield by those who profit from prostitution and crimes against children. In some cases, courts have interpreted certain provisions of the CDA to provide immunity from state prosecution to online classified ad sites, such as backpage.com, which promote and profit from human trafficking.
“I’m asking Congress to remove any language that grants immunity to huge international corporations like backpage.com, for the sake of protecting the millions of people who are harmed and taken advantage of by these sites,” said General Hood. “While the immunity granted through this bill had good intentions, this site and many other corporations, such as Google, began to make money off of advertising on these boards and refused to prevent their boards from being used illegally for crimes such as child prostitution, child pornography, sale of illegal and counterfeit drugs, stolen intellectual property, and more. This abuse of the immunity provision must be changed to make corporations put public safety over corporate profits.”
The letter to Congress seeks an amendment to clarify that states, localities, and territories retain authority to investigate and prosecute facilitators of child sex trafficking wherever they operate, including online. The simple word addition to the CDA proposed in this letter will help to ensure that citizens and children are effectively protected throughout the entire country, in all courts.
“These corporations are conducting criminal activity as a business and hiding behind this law,” explained General Hood. “A clear example is that a newspaper running a classified ad in their printed edition of their paper advertising child prostitution could be charged with a crime; whereas, the same ad online would not be subject to prosecution, even if it could be proven that the news organization was aware of the illegal activity being advertised. It is unfortunate that the CEOs of some of the largest, most profitable corporations in the world have placed profits over being good corporate citizens.”
To view the letter, click here.
In addition to Mississippi, the following states and territories signed onto the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that the State of Mississippi has settled its claims with Global Tel*Link Corporation for $2,500,000.00.
“I am pleased with Global Tel*Link for cooperating and quickly resolving this matter with the State’s taxpayers,” said General Hood. “As a company that continues to contract with the State, Global Tel*Link quickly approached our office seeking settlement after the Epps scandal. Due to their cooperation, we have now resolved this matter.”
This settlement ends the second of 11 civil actions the Attorney General filed on February 8, 2017, accusing 10 individuals and 12 out-of-state corporations of using alleged “consultants” as conduits to pay bribes and kickbacks to then-Commissioner Epps for the awarding and retention of MDOC contracts—all while defrauding the State through a pattern of misrepresentation, fraud, concealment, money laundering and other wrongful conduct, arising from the Epps Bribery Scandal. To date, the Attorney General has recovered $4,500,000.00 on behalf of Mississippi taxpayers related to the MDOC Prison Bribery Scandal.
“We will continue to aggressively pursue these remaining cases not only to disgorge these other companies and individuals of their ill-gotten profits, but also the value of the public contracts. Before this is over, companies that aren’t willing to do right by Mississippi taxpayers will wish they never heard the word ‘consultant’ or ‘bribe’ in the state of Mississippi,” said General Hood. “Corporations who play these illegal games with Mississippi taxpayers’ money should take note that the state of Mississippi will get its money back and then some.
Attorney General Jim Hood announced today his office’s recognition of Child Support Awareness Month during the month of August.
This August marks the 22nd anniversary of Child Support Awareness Month, which focuses on informing families on the services dedicated to helping children receive support from both parents. Government agencies and non-profits from all over the United States are participating in the national month of recognition.
“Refusal to pay child support in Mississippi is a felony,” said General Hood. “Parents will be held accountable through our office’s Child Desertion Unit to uphold their monetary responsibility to their children. It is essential that we enforce every law and do everything possible so that children in our state are supported and can have a brighter future.”
The Child Desertion Unit of the Attorney General’s Office is dedicated to the prosecution of deadbeat parents of Mississippi children. This unit criminally prosecutes parents for desertion, abandonment, and failure to pay court-ordered child support. In Fiscal Year 2017, the amount of fines, fees, and restitution awarded in child support cases prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office was $403,356.01.
“I am very proud of my office’s efforts to ensure that children have support from both parents,” added General Hood. “We will continue to hold parents responsible and prosecute them if they do not uphold that great responsibility. Our services are very important to children and families from all over the state, and I am happy to recognize this special opportunity to share information on this issue.”
The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office has several resources to help both children and parents. For more information on Child Support Services, visit http://www.ago.state.ms.us/divisions/child-desertion-unit/.
Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the sentencing of 23-year-old Darryl Warner III, of Poplarville, who entered an open plea on one count of child exploitation.
Warner, originally from Picayune, was sentenced Friday by Pearl River County Circuit Court Judge Claiborne McDonald. Judge McDonald sentenced him to 30 years with 15 to serve and 15 suspended with post-release supervision. Upon his release from the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Warner must register as a sex offender.
“Another pervert is behind bars and away from our children thanks to the work of our cybercrime division and the sentencing by Judge McDonald,” said General Hood. “This is some of the most important work our office handles—protecting the children in our state and convicting those who put them in harm’s way.”
Warner was arrested April 5, 2016, after being found in possession of hundreds of images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children under the age of eight, some as young as toddlers. These videos and pictures showed adult men forcing infants to perform oral sex, and it also showed men raping young girls. He was arrested by Investigator Wayne Lynch of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance from the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Office and the Picayune Police Department.
This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.
Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of a Scott County woman who is charged with using the identity of another person to obtain insurance coverage.
Maria Esmeralda Berrios-Guerrero, 43, of Forest, was arrested Thursday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau, a part of the Public Integrity Division, with assistance from the Scott County Sheriff’s Office. She was indicted on one felony count of false pretense for submitting false insurance claims in excess of $500 through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. The scheme alleged in the indictment took place over nine years, from November 2007 until October 2016.
If convicted, Berrios-Guerrero faces up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. A charge is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case was investigated by Michael Stevens with the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Robert “Bob” Anderson with the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.
Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of 41-year-old Richard Jermaine Macklin on one felony count of non-support of a child.
Macklin, of Gulfport, was arrested Wednesday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division following a June indictment by a Jackson County Grand Jury. He was booked into the Jackson County Adult Detention Center and will be arraigned at a later date before Judge Robert Krebs.
Macklin faces up to five years in prison, restitution, and a $500 fine. A charge is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Attorney General’s Child Desertion Unit and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Kimberly T. Purdie of the Attorney General’s Child Desertion Unit.
Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the conviction of a Memphis man for failing to pay more than $23,000 in child support.
Abdalrahim Shadi Hasain, 37, was found guilty by a Harrison County jury Wednesday on one count of felony non-support of a child. It was proven at trial the defendant willfully refused to pay child support in excess of $23,000, which he was ordered to pay to his daughter. He was immediately taken into custody and booked into the Harrison County Jail.
“Our office will not allow deadbeat dads to get away with not supporting their children,” said General Hood. “I thank the jury for recognizing this parent’s responsibility to his child.”
Harrison County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Schmidt set the sentencing for August 31. Hasain faces up to five years behind bars, full restitution, and a $500 fine.
This case was investigated by the Attorney General’s Child Desertion Unit and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Kimberly T. Purdie and Jim Giddy.