Hattiesburg Resident Going to Prison for Child Exploitation

May 26, 2015
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A Hattiesburg resident is going to prison for child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

William E. Conley, 40, of Hattiesburg, pleaded guilty Friday before Judge Robert Helfrich in Forrest County Circuit Court to one count of child exploitation.  As a result of the plea, Judge Helfrich sentenced Conley to 40 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with eight years to serve and five years of post-release supervision.  Conley must also pay $1,000 to the children’s trust fund, $1,000 to the crime victim’s compensation fund and register as a sex offender. 

“Our case against this defendant was based on an undercover investigation which showed he was downloading and sharing hundreds of videos of child pornography, including molestation and grooming videos,” said Attorney General Hood.  “We appreciate Judge Helfrich for slamming the prison doors on another child predator.” The children on the videos ranged from ages three to 11.  The videos, downloaded using the file sharing program ‘Shareaza”, are extremely graphic. One example of a video found in the possession of the defendant included a training video cartoon wherein the cartoon girl performs oral sex on an adult male. At the end of the cartoon, confetti and balloons shoot off and shows the little girl giving thumbs up and the words “end of lesson” are shown. This cartoon is used for the sexual grooming of young children.  

The case was investigated by the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.

 


Bassfield Resident Going to Prison for Sale of Counterfeit Goods

May 22, 2015
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A Bassfield resident is going to prison for selling counterfeit merchandise, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Willie Lorenzo Greer, 61, of Bassfield, pleaded guilty to one count of Felony Sale of Counterfeit Goods Monday in Marion County Circuit Court before Judge Anthony Mazingo. Greer admitted to selling counterfeit designer handbags to Investigators with the Attorney General’s office. As a result, Judge Mazingo sentenced the defendant to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with four years suspended, one to serve, followed by three years of post release supervision.

““The sale of counterfeit goods not only hurts American businesses and jobs, but it also provides funding for gangs and overseas terrorist organizations,” said Attorney General Hood. “Additionally, some counterfeit items are dangerous. For example, counterfeited UL approval stamps on curling and straightening irons can cause house fires, and counterfeit drugs and contact lenses can injure people. We all have a moral obligation to try to buy legal products. My rule of thumb is that if something is so cheap that it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

The Attorney General’s Office tries to help people identify counterfeit products. “A Consumer’s Guide to Counterfeit Products” can be viewed or downloaded atwww.agjimhood.com. From the main page, click on the “media center” link, then “publications”. More information can also be found at the Mississippi Intellectual Property Crime Center website, created by the Attorney General, at http://mipcc.ago.state.ms.us.

The Attorney General’s Office would like to thank Homeland Security Investigations in Gulfport for their assistance with the search warrant in this case.


Jasper County Resident Arrested for Identity Theft in Smith County

May 19, 2015
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A Jasper County resident is facing charges of identity theft in Smith County, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Kimberly Michele Gaines, 38, turned herself in to authorities at the Smith County Sheriff’s Office Monday following indictment by a Smith County Grand Jury on one count of identity theft for allegedly stealing the personal identifying information of a patient for whom Gaines served as a caregiver.  The indictment alleges that Gaines committed identity theft by obtaining the alleged victim’s social security number to open a credit card without authorization.

The case is being investigated and prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.  As with all cases, the defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Deadbeat Dad Sentenced in Rankin County for Failing to Pay Child Support

May 19, 2015
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A resident of Richland has answered in court for his failure to support his child in Rankin County, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Joe Glen Tharp Sr., age 36, of Richland, pleaded guilty to child desertion Monday in Rankin County Circuit Court before Judge John H. Emfinger.  Tharp admitted he has failed to pay $34,000 he owes in support of his child. As a result, Judge Emfinger sentenced Tharp to five years in custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years suspended on supervised probation so that he could pay the $34,000 that he owes.

“We thank Judge Emfinger for reminding our deadbeat parents  that there is no hiding place from their obligations in Mississippi,” said Attorney General Jim Hood.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Elliott Flaggs with the Attorney General’s Child Desertion Unit.


Registered Sex Offender Arrested for Child Exploitation

May 14, 2015
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A registered sex offender in Humphreys County has been arrested for child exploitation and other crimes, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Leroy Bowman, 25, of Belzoni, was arrested at his home Wednesday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance from the FBI Child Exploitation Unit and the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Department.  Bowman is charged with one count of Child Exploitation and three counts Convicted Felon in Possession of a Firearm.  He is also accused of being in violation of the Sex Offender Registry for failing to notify authorities of his residence near an elementary school.

“Our cyber investigators made this arrest following an undercover child exploitation investigation,” said Attorney General Hood.  “While we cannot reveal the specific results of that investigation at this time, we look forward to presenting our evidence in court.”

Bowman was booked into the Humphreys County jail. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years on the exploitation charge, 10 years per count for the felon in possession charge and five years for failure to register as a sex offender for a total of 75 potential years behind bars.  As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


ATTORNEY GENERAL ANNOUNCES $158 MILLION MOBILE CRAMMING SETTLEMENTS WITH SPRINT AND VERIZON

May 13, 2015
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Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that his Consumer Protection Division—along with the Attorneys General of the other 49 States and the District of Columbia, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Federal Communications Commission—reached settlements with Sprint Corporation (“Sprint”) and Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless (“Verizon”), that include $158 million in payments, and that resolve allegations that Sprint and Verizon placed charges for third-party services on consumers’ mobile telephone bills that were not authorized by the consumers, a practice known as “mobile cramming.”

The State of Mississippi received $358,269.56 for its participation in the Sprint and Verizon settlements. The national mobile cramming settlements with the four mobile carriers have netted the State of Mississippi a total of $846,136.21.

“Consumers who have been ‘crammed’ often have charges, typically $9.99 per month, for “premium” text message subscription services such as horoscopes, trivia, and sports scores that the consumers have never heard of or requested,” said Attorney General Hood.

Sprint and Verizon are the third and fourth mobile telephone providers to enter into a nation-wide settlement to resolve allegations regarding cramming. Attorney General Jim Hood announced similar settlements with AT&T in October of 2014 ($105 million), and T-Mobile in December of 2014 ($90 million). All four mobile carriers announced they would cease billing customers for commercial PSMS in the fall of 2013.

Under the terms of the settlements, Sprint will pay $68 million and Verizon will pay $90 million.  Of these amounts, Sprint and Verizon are required to provide $50 million and $70 million, respectively, to consumers who were victims of cramming.  Sprint and Verizon will each distribute refunds to harmed consumers through redress programs that will be under the supervision of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Sprint will also pay $12 million to the Attorneys General and $6 million to the Federal Communications Commission.  Verizon will also pay $16 million to the Attorneys General and $4 million to the Federal Communications Commission.

Consumers can submit claims under the redress programs by visiting www.SprintRefundPSMS.com and/or www.CFPBSettlementVerizon.com .  On those websites, consumers can submit claims, find information about refund eligibility and how to obtain a refund, and can request a free account summary that details PSMS purchases on their accounts.   Consumers who have questions about the redress programs can visit the program websites or call the settlement administrators at: (877) 389-8787 (Sprint), and/or (888) 726-7063 (Verizon).

The settlements, like the settlements entered into by AT&T and T-Mobile in late 2014, require Sprint and Verizon to stay out of the commercial PSMS business—the platform to which law enforcement agencies attribute the lion’s share of the mobile cramming problem.  Under each of the four settlements, the carriers, including Sprint and Verizon, must also take a number of steps designed to ensure that they only bill consumers for third-party charges that have been authorized.


Philadelphia Man Arrested for Sexual Exploitation of Minor

May 12, 2015
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A Philadelphia resident is facing charges in Tennessee of sexual exploitation of a minor, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Caleb Coleman, 20, was arrested at his home in Philadelphia (Neshoba County) this morning by investigators of the Attorney General’s Office Cyber Crime Unit and the Philadelphia Police Department. Coleman is wanted in Tennessee following indictment for sexual exploitation of a minor. Coleman is accused of corresponding inappropriately with a 16 year old girl in Tennessee via Skype.  Coleman is alleged to have driven from his home in Mississippi to the juvenile’s home in Cookeville, Tennessee to meet with the teen.  Instead, he was met by the girl’s father who reported him to Cookeville Police.  Before officers could arrive on the scene, Coleman is alleged to have driven back to his home in Philadelphia. Tennessee authorities alerted Mississippi authorities, resulting in the defendant’s arrest. Coleman is being detained in the Neshoba County Jail pending an extradition hearing.

“Our Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force works with local, state and federal agencies on these types of cases all the time,” said Attorney General Hood. “There is no refuge in this state for anyone preying on children.”

“The Philadelphia Police Department stands vigilant in protecting kids online,” said Chief Grant Myers. “Parents should always get involved in their kids online life, more now than ever, and make sure they are not chatting with an internet predator.”

As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

 


Brandon Resident Going to Prison for Child Exploitation

May 11, 2015

A Brandon resident is going to prison for child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Justin Lee Goldsmith, 20, of Brandon, appeared before Rankin County Circuit Court Judge William E. Chapman today where he entered an open plea of guilty to one count of child exploitation. An open plea means the defendant refuses to accept the state’s recommendation and instead throws himself at the mercy of the court. As a result, Judge Chapman sentenced Goldsmith to 40 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years to serve. He also received five years of probation, must pay $1,000 to the children’s trust fund and must register as a sex offender upon release.

Goldsmith was arrested by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit following a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that the defendant had been uploading images of child pornography to his Tumbler account using the screen name “incestisbest123”.

“We thank Judge Chapman for helping us put another child predator behind bars,” said Attorney General Hood. “We are hot on the trail of many others that we intend to see the same fate.”