Madison County Man Sentenced to 40 Years for Child Exploitation

May 24, 2017

Timothy Flanagan, 40, of Madison County

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced that a Madison County man is going to prison for child exploitation.

Timothy Flanagan, 40, pled guilty Monday in Madison County Circuit Court to one count of child exploitation. Judge John Emfinger sentenced Flanagan to 40 years in prison with 20 to serve. Flanagan was ordered to pay $1,000 to the Mississippi Children’s Trust Fund and another $1,000 to the Mississippi Crime Victim Compensation Fund.

Flanagan was arrested in Flora in August 2016 by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cybercrime Unit, with the assistance of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, following an investigation that revealed he was downloading child pornography from the internet.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time this man has admitted guilt in handling child pornography,” said General Hood. “In 2014, Flanagan registered as a sex offender after pleading guilty to three counts of possession of child porn in Wyoming. This is exactly why the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is so important-to be sure individuals like Flanagan are not able to exploit our children.”

This case was investigated by Jay Houston and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.


Mississippi Joins $18.5M Settlement with Target Corporation over 2013 Data Breach

May 23, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood today announced that Mississippi has joined with 46 other states and the District of Columbia in an $18.5 million settlement with the Target Corporation to resolve the states’ investigation into the retail company’s 2013 data breach. The settlement represents the largest multistate data breach settlement achieved to date.

The states’ investigation, led by Connecticut and Illinois, found that, on or about November 12, 2013, cyber attackers accessed Target’s gateway server through credentials stolen from a third-party vendor. The credentials were then used to exploit weaknesses in Target’s system, which allowed the attackers to access a customer service database, install malware on the system and to capture data, including consumer data comprised of full names, telephone numbers, email addresses and mailing addresses, payment card numbers, expiration dates and CVV1 codes, and encrypted debit PINs.

The breach affected more than 41 million customer payment card accounts and contact information for more than 60 million customers.

“We are living in a cyber world, therefore we must take additional steps to ensure consumers are protected,” said General Hood. “Our consumer protection division, along with others across the country, is happy to see this case settled and to see Target implementing ways to protect their customers from future hacks.”

In addition to the monetary payment to the states, the settlement agreement requires Target to develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive information security program and to employ an executive or officer who is responsible for executing the plan. The company is required to hire an independent, qualified third-party to conduct a comprehensive security assessment.

The settlement further requires Target to maintain and support software on its network; to maintain appropriate encryption policies, particularly as pertains to cardholder and personal information data; to segment its cardholder data environment from the rest of its computer network; and to undertake steps to control access to its network, including implementing password rotation policies and two-factor authentication for certain accounts.

Mississippi will receive $227,714.21 from the settlement.

In addition to Mississippi, and led by the Connecticut and Illinois, other states participating in this settlement include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia and the District of Columbia.


Free Online Program Informs Senior Citizens About Robocalls, Scams, and Latest Technology Issues

May 19, 2017

A free online program is available next week to help senior citizens and their families learn how to prevent, identify, and respond to scams targeting elderly people, as well as how to deal with the latest barriers of technology.

Attorney General Jim Hood announced the webinar today, which coincides with Older Americans Month and is offered by the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission. The webinar will provide older Americans and their family and friends with information and tips about the value of broadband connectivity (i.e., staying engaged, telehealth), dealing with robocalls, reporting suspicious calls, and benefitting from FCC rules requiring disability access to communications, including rules that require hearing aid compatibility, telecommunications relay services, emergency access, and closed captioning.

“Whether you are an older adult, care for one, or simply know someone who is a senior, you will find this webinar helpful,” said General Hood.

The webinar will be presented by the FCC on Monday, May 22, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. CT at www.fcc.gov/live with open captions. During the event, participants may submit comments and questions by emailing livequestions@fcc.gov or via Twitter using the hashtag #FCCLive. No registration is required.

More information about the free webinar can be found on the FCC’s event page at www.fcc.gov/news-events/events/2017/05/what-older-americans-and-their-caregivers-should-know-about-robocalls. After the event, an archived version of the webinar will be listed on that page as well.

Additional information may also be obtained by contacting the Consumer Protection Division of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office at 601-359-4230 or toll free at 1-800-281-4418.


ATTORNEY GENERAL JIM HOOD SETTLES SUIT IN EPPS SCANDAL

May 18, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that the State of Mississippi has settled its claims with Branan Medical Corporation for $2,000,000.00. This settlement effectively recovers not only the State’s cost for purchasing hundreds of thousands of drug testing cups during then-Commissioner Christopher Epps tenure at MDOC, but also any of Branan’s profits.

“I am pleased with Alere Inc. for cooperating and quickly resolving this matter with the State’s taxpayers,” said General Hood. “Alere bought Branan Medical after the Epps scandal occurred, and they were one of the first companies to approach our office seeking settlement in this case.  Due to their cooperation, we have quickly resolved this matter.”

This settlement ends one 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 MDOC Prison Bribery Scandal.

“We are pursuing these cases not only to disgorge these companies and individuals of their ill-gotten profits, but also the value of the contracts.  Before this is over, these companies will lose big on these contracts and wish they never heard the word bribe or consultant in the state of Mississippi,” said General Hood. “The State received the benefit of all the drug testing cups it purchased in this case.  The State also recovered the taxpayers’ money that was illegally used by former-Commissioner Epps, and we proved that this contract cost the company money.  Other corporations who are playing these illegal games with Mississippi taxpayers should take note.”

Click here for a copy of the Branan Settlement Agreement and Release Executed.


Former Whitfield Employee Sentenced for Abusing Vulnerable Person

May 16, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the sentencing of a former Mississippi State Hospital employee, who was charged with abusing a hospital resident.

James Sorrell, 36, of Richland, pled guilty and was sentenced in Rankin County Circuit Court Monday on one count of abuse of a vulnerable person. Sorrell, who was a Whitfield employee, broke a residents jaw by punching the resident in the face. Judge William Chapman, at the request of the Attorney General’s Office, found that this was a crime of violence, meaning Sorrell will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least half of his sentence.

“We appreciate the good caregivers who work long hours for low pay caring for our most vulnerable,” said General Hood. “However, it is a bright line healthcare workers know not to cross- do not let your temper cause you to harm a person in your care. Healthcare workers are trained to get help if they need assistance with a patient. I hope Judge Chapman’s 10 year sentence will serve as a deterrence to all those working with patients.”

Sorrell was sentenced to 20 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with 10 years suspended, 10 to serve, and five years post-release supervision. He was also ordered to pay all court costs and assessments.

This case was investigated by Investigators Jake Windham and Joel Houston and was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Katie Moulds with the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.


Attorney General Jim Hood Partners With Police Chiefs for Seventh Annual Fallen Officers Candlelight Vigil

May 11, 2017

The seventh annual Mississippi Fallen Law Enforcement Officers Candlelight Vigil will be held Tuesday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Statewide Fallen Officers Memorial in Jackson.

Attorney General Jim Hood will join the Mississippi Chiefs of Police in hosting the ceremony, which coincides with National Police Week, to honor the men and women our state has lost in their service to protect us.

“We always know law enforcement are there to help us in times of trouble,” said General Hood. “Sadly, we forever feel the loss and emptiness of those officers those brave souls who died in the line of duty.”

The following names of five fallen Mississippi law enforcement officers have been added to the wall this year:

  • M. Millstead           4/17/1920          Richton Town Marshal
  • William L. Dunnam     4/1/1921           Richton Town Marshal
  • John R. Harris            7/18/1922         Hinds County S.O.
  • Clarence J. Lanier      8/11/1930         Warren County S.O.
  • James Lee Tartt         2/20/2016         MS Bureau of Narcotics

“Having been a police officer and chief, I know all too well the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make every day,” said Ken Winter, Executive Director of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police. “Our candlelight vigil is a solemn reminder of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice with their life. Join us at the vigil to show surviving family and officers that we’ll never forget.”

General Hood is the keynote speaker for the event.

Law enforcement agencies statewide and members of the public, along with family and friends of any Mississippi law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, are invited to join officers from the Mississippi Chiefs of Police Association and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office at the event.

WHAT: Mississippi Fallen Law Enforcement Officers Candlelight Vigil

WHERE: Mississippi Statewide Fallen Officers Memorial, Jackson (located off of High Street between the Walter Sillers and Gartin Justice Buildings)
** In the event of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the lobby of the Walter Sillers Building.

WHEN: Tuesday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m.


Tylertown Man Charged with Child Exploitation, Possession of Child Pornography

May 11, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of a Tylertown, Mississippi man who was charged with one count of child exploitation and possession of child pornography.

Mickey Luter, 60, was arrested at his home Wednesday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit with assistance from the Tylertown Police Department. He was booked in the Walthall County Detention Center awaiting his initial appearance today.

If convicted, Luter faces up to 40 years in prison and fines ranging from $50,000 to $500,000. A charge is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by Investigator Jay Houston with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and it will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


Corinth Woman Charged with Felony Exploitation of a Vulnerable Person

May 8, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced that 34-year-old Peggy Pickens of Corinth was charged with one felony count of exploitation of a vulnerable person after indictment by the Alcorn County Grand Jury.

Pickens is accused of using social security disbursements belonging to two patients for her own benefit while the patients were in a long term care facility. She is accused of withdrawing $3,253.10 from the patients accounts between March 2016 and May 2016.

This case is set for trial in Alcorn County Circuit Court on June 22, 2017. If convicted, Pickens faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.  After turning herself in at the Alcorn County Jail, she was released on a $5,000 bond. A charge is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by Investigator Joe Sanderson and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Mark Ward.