Hattiesburg Bail Bond Agent Faces Felony Embezzlement Charges

April 22, 2016
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Allen Humphrey, 56, of Hattiesburg, has been arrested for writing $875,000 in fraudulent bonds while employed as a bail bond agent for Mississippi Bonding Company, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Humphrey turned himself in to authorities Thursday following the indictment by a Lamar County Grand Jury on two counts of felony embezzlement. An investigation by the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division uncovered that Humphrey was allegedly embezzling funds while issuing bonds for Mississippi Bonding Company. Humphrey is accused of writing $875,000 in fraudulent bonds, embezzling the company’s proceeds from these bonds and converting the money to his own use.

Humphrey was booked into the Lamar County Jail with a bond set at $45,000. If convicted of both counts, the defendant faces a total of 30 years in custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and a $50,000 fine. As with all cases, a charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by Ronnie Odom with the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Larry Baker.


Jackson Man Going to Prison for Auto Theft

April 22, 2016
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Derrick Thomas, 22, of Jackson, has been sentenced for auto theft, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Thomas appeared Thursday before Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Weill, Sr., and pleaded guilty to one count of auto theft.  Judge Weill sentenced Thomas to seven years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with two years suspended and five years to serve followed by two years of post-release supervision. Additionally, Thomas was ordered to pay a $500 assessment to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

At the time of the May, 2013 crime, Thomas was at the scene of an altercation which resulted in the death of R.B. Ervin, 66, of Jackson.  Thomas pleaded guilty to participating in stealing the victim’s vehicle.

The case was a joint investigation by Investigator Perry Tate of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division and the Jackson Police Department.  Prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander.


Jackson Man Going to Prison for Manslaughter and Auto Theft

April 21, 2016
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Randy McKee, 23, of Jackson, has been sentenced for manslaughter and auto theft, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

McKee appeared today before Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Weill, Sr., and pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter and one count of auto theft.  Judge Weill sentenced McKee to 20 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for manslaughter and five years to serve for auto theft. The sentences are to run consecutively with a total number of 25 years to serve.

R.B. Ervin, 66, of Jackson, was killed in his home in May 2013 following an altercation with McKee. McKee then stole the victim’s vehicle.

“The reckless violence of this defendant’s crimes ended one life and devastated others,” said Attorney General Hood. “His conviction provides a measure of justice and serves as a warning to others. We thank the Jackson Police Department for their hard work on the case and the strong sentence by Judge Weill.”

The case was a joint investigation by Investigator Perry Tate of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division and the Jackson Police Department.  Prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander.

 

 


Jackson Man Going to Prison for Depraved Heart Murder

April 21, 2016
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Demonte Finch, 20, of Jackson, has been sentenced for depraved heart murder of a 15-year-old student at a Jackson high school, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Finch appeared Tuesday before Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Weill, Sr., and pleaded guilty to depraved heart murder.  Judge Weill sentenced Finch to 25 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with 20 years to serve day-for-day followed by five years of post-release supervision.

Destinee Ford, a 15-year-old freshman student, was killed outside a Jackson high school on the afternoon of Dec. 5, 2013, after classes had been dismissed for the day.  An investigation revealed that Ford was shot during a fight between students.  Finch and two other defendants were charged with her murder.

“We greatly appreciate the Jackson Police Department for making this arrest and the solid sentence by Judge Weill bringing this defendant to justice for the senseless murder of a 15-year-old girl,” said Attorney General Hood.  “Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victim’s family.” 

The case was a joint investigation by Attorney General Investigators Perry Tate and Miller Faulk and the Jackson Police Department.  Prosecution was handled by Special Assistant Attorneys General Patrick Beasley and Alison O’Neal McMinn.

 

 


Attorney General Jim Hood Recognizes Accomplishments of the Houston High School Solar Race Car Team

April 14, 2016
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Houston Solar Race Car TeamAttorney General Jim Hood presented a proclamation today on the Senate floor to team members of the Houston High School Solar Car Race Team, which has  fielded a successful Solar Car Race Team and student built solar race car, the Sundancer,  for more than 14 years.

“I am very proud of this team of young students of Houston High School and their accomplishments,” said Attorney General Hood. “This team is comprised of intelligent, industrious and resourceful young student-engineers, and they were winners before the race ever started. Their hard work and dedication speaks volumes about their abilities, talents and skills.”

The team has won 14 consecutive national championships in the Solar Car Challenge and is the most nationally recognized high school solar car race team in the United States. After its national win last year, the Houston Solar Car Race Team successfully competed in the Bridgestone World Solar Car Challenge in Australia in October. The team and its solar-powered vehicle, Sundancer, successfully completed more solar miles than any entry in their class and more solar miles than nine other teams in another division for a total of 1,525.6 miles during the international competition. The Australia trip is the second in 14 years for the team led by Advisor Keith Reese, a teacher at Houston High School. The team recently earned its fourteenth consecutive national title.

Members of the 2015 Houston Solar Car Team are: Team Captain Allyson Taylor, Lakyn Adams, Summer Carner, Palmer Earnest, Greg Hollingsworth, James Ingram, Matthew Hood, Malik Lawrence, Hunter Moore, Ajay Patel, Hayden Powell, Cody Voyles, Layla Westmoreland and Jackson Whitt. Matthew Hood is Attorney General Hood’s son and a senior at Houston High School, who has been a team member for three years.

In Australia, the team ranked highest in its class and 21st overall, placing higher than university teams, including one from MIT.

“The team successfully negotiated the obstacles and dangers and successfully completed competitions using outstanding techniques, while working exceedingly well together as a team,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “I commend and honor the Sundancer team for their outstanding achievement in domestic and international competition this year. It should make us proud as Mississippians to see the level of accomplishment attained by students from a small school and small town.”

For more information about the Houston High School Solar Car Race Team, visit their Facebook page, Houston Solar Race Team (Sundancer), Non-Profit Organization, or www.twitter.com/HoustonRaceTeam. Also you can view their blog at www.sundancersolarcar.blogspot.com.


Madison Resident Arrested for Identity Theft and Medicaid Fraud

April 13, 2016
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Brenda Faye Mason, 50, of Madison, has been arrested and faces charges for Medicaid fraud and identity theft, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Mason turned herself in Tuesday to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office following the indictment by a Madison County Grand Jury on multiple counts of Medicaid Fraud and one count of identity theft.

Mason is accused of willfully, unlawfully and feloniously presenting or causing to be presented, claims to Medicaid on behalf of Life Choices Community Health Services, knowing those claims to be false, fictitious or fraudulent. She is also accused of obtaining the personal identity information of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and using the information to make fraudulent claims to Medicaid for services that were false, fictitious and fraudulent. Claims were in excess of $60,000 for a period from March 2, 2015, through March 31, 2105.

Mason was booked into the Madison County Detention Center and is awaiting her initial appearance.  If convicted of the Medicaid Fraud charges, she faces up to five years per count and 15 years for Identity theft behind bars. Additionally, Mason faces a total of $350,000 in fines for the Medicaid Fraud charges and a $10,000 fine for Identity Theft.  As with all cases, a charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by Daniel Thomas, George Ferguson, Barrick Fortune, Auditor Gilda Reyes, Tina Bennett, RN, and Program Specialist Richard Cameron, all of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Prosecution will be handled by Special Assistant Attorney General Sue Perry.

 


Attorney General Hosts Crime Victims’ Rights Week Awards Ceremony in Honor of Mississippi Crime Victims and Advocates

April 13, 2016
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In conjunction with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Attorney General Jim Hood on Tuesday hosted the crime victims’ rights awards ceremony honoring victims of crime and advocates for victims.

This year’s theme for the ceremony was, “Serving Victims, Building Trust, Restoring Hope”.  During the ceremony, awards were presented to leaders and volunteers who provide exemplary assistance and service to Mississippi crime victims. Attorney General Jim Hood and guest speaker Gov. Phil Bryant commended the efforts and dedication of those who work hard throughout the year to serve victims, survivors of violent crime and their families.

“This is a rewarding area of work and this is an opportunity for us to thank those who work with our victims in Mississippi on a daily basis,” Attorney General Hood said.

Attorney General Hood presented the Amy Clayton Justice Achievement Award to the Office of District Attorney Anthony “Tony” Lawrence III, of the 19th Judicial District (Jackson, George and Greene County).

“This office was nominated by the Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence, but I would second that nomination in a heartbeat,” said Attorney General Hood. “Having been down there, seeing the energy in the people who work there and how they successfully protect victims every single day as well as recognizing them, I am proud to have presented this award to District Attorney Tony Lawrence and his staff.”

The Amy Clayton Victim Service Award was presented to Shalotta Sharp, who is employed as a Special Projects Coordinator with the Mississippi Coalition for Sexual Assault. The Amy Clayton Volunteer Service Award was presented to Linda Owens-Simpson, of Jackson, who is a volunteer for Catholic Charities.

The Bureau of Victim Assistance of the Office of the Attorney General presented two awards to Jeffrey A. Klingfuss, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Klingfuss is also a Special Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division. Sgt. Derrick Jordan, who has been with the Jackson Police Department for 15 years, received the Distinguished Service Award.

The Crime Victims Compensation Division, which is housed in the Bureau of Victim Assistance, received 1,169 requests for compensation last year. The Bureau works diligently throughout the year with law enforcement agencies, non-profit organizations and district attorneys’ offices statewide to increase the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, promote the fair and compassionate treatment of victims of crime, ensure victims are afforded their constitutional rights and considerations, and provide financial assistance for victims with losses resulting from injuries or death.

“All of our victim assistant coordinators and volunteers, state agencies, district attorneys’ offices, law enforcement agencies and non-profit organizations work together as a unit,” said Attorney General Hood. “We have a place here, a central hub in Jackson, for all of us to gather and recognize the heartache that many of our victims and families go through, and we are able to share a human touch with victims as we do our best to help them.”

For more information on the services provided by the Bureau of Victim Assistance, please call (800) 829-6766 or (601) 359-6766 or visit www.agjimhood.com.

This year’s ceremony was made possible through partnership with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Mississippi Coalition for Survivors of Homicide, Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

 


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Dismisses Google’s Federal Lawsuit against Attorney General Jim Hood

April 11, 2016
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit dismissed Google’s federal lawsuit Friday against Attorney General Jim Hood, filed after the Attorney General issued an administrative subpoena to the company seeking information about whether its conduct or policies violated Mississippi state law. The court also lifted an injunction on Friday that was put in place by a lower court last year that had prevented Attorney General Hood from seeking to enforce the subpoena.

The appeals court turned back an attempt by Google Inc. to use the federal court system to block Attorney General Jim Hood’s investigation of the Internet giant’s business practices.

“The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals clearly saw through Google’s attempt to misuse the federal courts in an effort to obstruct a sovereign state’s investigation into state-law matters,” Attorney General Hood said. “It should be a concern of every American citizen when a corporation tries such a brazen end-run around state law. I am grateful for the court’s ruling on an issue important to protecting children and families in Mississippi and across the country.”

Google’s 2015 revenues were $74.5 billion, which is higher than the annual GDPs of all but about 65 countries, and some states such as North and South Dakota, Maine and West Virginia.  Also, Fortune 500 ranked Apple and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, first and second in terms of market value in 2015.

Google is ranked as having the world’s third most valuable brand. The company earns an estimated $115,000 in revenue every minute, converting more than $23,000 of that into profit. It is the world’s most popular search engine. With that wealth and power comes tremendous responsibility.

Attorney General Hood initially raised concerns about Google’s practices more than three years ago, alleging that it was too simple for consumers to buy counterfeit goods, purchase illegal drugs or view copyrighted materials by using the company’s web platforms.

In October 2014, the Attorney General issued an administrative subpoena to Google, seeking information about Google’s platforms, its advertising, and its efforts to protect consumers against illegal content. The Attorney General’s Office offered to work with Google regarding what documents the company would provide, how they would be provided and when they would provide them. But just a short time later, the company filed its lawsuit and sought the injunction.

The appeals court determined that the district judge erred in issuing the injunction due to the lack of proof of irreparable injury, one of the four fundamental elements for issuing an injunction.

The Fifth Circuit’s dismissal of Google’s lawsuit takes place at a time when Google is drawing attention from other state Attorneys General for possibly manipulating search results to the detriment of consumers.  In February, the attorneys general of Utah and the District of Columbia asked the Federal Trade Commission to consider reopening an antitrust investigation of Google.  Those Attorneys General cited the European Union’s recent antitrust charges against the company as a reason to renew an FTC inquiry.

“My investigators have determined that Google has made some progress as a result of our inquiry and cleaned up some of the autocomplete functions and advertising related to drug sales,” Attorney General Hood said. “We also have concerns about issues involving data mining of children’s information and search results manipulation.”

Attorney General Hood also thanked a bipartisan group of 40 attorneys general from across the country that supported his appeal. His colleagues filed an amicus curiae brief with the Fifth Circuit that backed Mississippi’s position in the case.

“As I have said many times, there is no federal agency assigned to policing the Internet,” Attorney General Hood said. “Protecting families from the dangers of the Internet has been the responsibility of attorneys general. I thank my 40 fellow attorneys general in supporting the dismissal of this case.”

The Attorney General’s Office will evaluate how to proceed with the investigation once an order of dismissal is entered by the district court.

“As an attorney general with a duty to protect families, it is of grave concern to me when the top two corporations standing in the world today, Google and Apple, refuse to help American citizens protect their children,” Attorney General Hood said. “When conspiracy theorists talk about Big Brother, it is no longer the federal government, it is companies such as Google, which have access to more personal information about us than any entity in history has ever assembled.”