Meridian Woman Going to Prison for Insurance, Wire Fraud

June 12, 2019

Sylvia Lynn Dickinson, 34, of Meridian, falsely acted as a licensed agent and sold auto and home insurance to her victims, knowing that she was not certified to write this type of insurance.

Sylvia Lynn Dickinson, 34, will serve five years in prison for selling home and auto insurance without having a license to sell those policies, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Dickinson pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of insurance fraud and two counts of wire fraud. Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Robert T. “Bo” Bailey sentenced her to 16 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with five years to serve and 11 suspended. Upon her release, she will be placed on supervised probation for five years. Dickinson must also pay $70,154.91 in restitution to multiple victims, $830.50 in court costs and assessments, $1,000 to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund and $500 for investigative costs to the Attorney General’s Office. Judge Bailey further ordered that she shall never engage in the insurance business in any fashion or at any location.

At the time of the crimes, Dickinson falsely acted as a licensed agent and sold auto and home insurance to her victims, knowing that she was not certified to write this type of insurance. Upon receiving premium payments from the victims, Dickinson converted the money to her own use and the victims were never insured.

“Another con-artist is behind bars thanks to this sentence by Judge Bailey,” General Hood said.

This case was referred to the AGO by the Mississippi Insurance Department. It was investigated by Justin Harris and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Steven Waldrup, both of the AG’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau.


AG Hood Files Suit to Block T-Mobile, Sprint Megamerger

June 11, 2019

States allege merger is anticompetitive and will ultimately drive-up prices for consumers throughout the country

Attorney General Jim Hood joined nine states Tuesday in filing a multi-state lawsuit to halt the proposed merger of telecom giants T-Mobile and Sprint. The complaint, which was filed in New York federal court, alleges that the merger of two of the four national mobile network operators would deprive consumers of the benefits of competition and drive up prices for cellphone services.

“We’re trying to stop this merger because Mississippi customers would not benefit from the merger, but it would likely increase prices in the long run for them,” General Hood said. “Competition creates a healthy market, and a merger like this one would reduce options for consumers.”

T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. are the third and fourth largest mobile wireless networks in the U.S., respectively, and are the lower-cost carriers among the “Big Four.” Verizon Wireless and AT&T — the two largest wireless networks — round out the market. Intense competition, spurred in particular by T-Mobile and Sprint, has meant declining prices, increased coverage, and better quality for all mobile phone subscribers. Since 2009, the average cost of mobile service has fallen by roughly 28 percent, according to the Labor Department, while mobile data consumption has grown rapidly. However, the merger would put an end to that fierce competition, which has delivered so many benefits to consumers.

Currently, the average U.S. household spends approximately $1,100 annually on cellphone services. For many families, especially those with lower incomes, even a small price increase can result in suspension or cancellation of cellphone service. While T-Mobile and Sprint have made promises that their merger would offer lightning-fast speeds and increased capacity, the attorneys’ general investigation found that many of the claimed benefits were not verifiable. Before filing suit, the states gave significant consideration to T-Mobile and Sprint’s claims of increased coverage in rural areas. However, T-Mobile has yet to provide plans to build any new cell sites in areas that would not otherwise be served by either T-Mobile or Sprint. As stated in the complaint, the U.S. previously won the “race to LTE” as a direct result of vigorous competition among wireless carriers. Continued competition, not concentration, is most likely to spur rapid development of a nationwide 5G network and other innovations.

Additionally, the merger would harm thousands of hard-working mobile wireless independent dealers across the nation. The nine states and DC are concerned that further consolidation at the carrier level would lead to a substantial loss of retail jobs, as well as lower pay for these workers in the near future.

T-Mobile currently has more than 79 million subscribers and is a majority-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG. Sprint Corp. currently has more than 54 million subscribers and is a majority-owned subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp.

The following states joined Mississippi in filing the complaint: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin.


Canton Man Arrested on 3 Counts of Insurance Fraud

June 7, 2019

A Canton man who allegedly attempted to defraud the cities of Brandon and Pearl was arrested Thursday on three felony counts of insurance fraud, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Rodriquez Sago, 43, was indicted by a Rankin County grand jury on charges that allege he filed false insurance claims that stated city workers who were landscaping city property caused several rocks to hit his windshield and damage it. The indictment states the damage did not occur at the time he made the claim nor was the damage caused by the cities accused. Sago accused the City of Pearl for causing damages in June and July of 2017 and the City of Brandon in June 2018. He was booked into the Rankin County jail pending an initial appearance.

If convicted on all three counts, Sago faces up to nine years in prison. 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.

Sago is a convicted felon on an unrelated murder charge in Holmes County.

This case was investigated by Justin Harris and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brad Oberhousen, both with the AG’s Public Integrity Division. The arresting agency was the Mississippi Department of Corrections.


Registered Sex Offender Gets 20 Years for Possessing Child Pornography

June 7, 2019

Terry Wayne Neel, of Coldwater, will spend 20 years behind bars for uploading and sharing child pornography on a social media outlet, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Terry Wayne Neel, of Coldwater, will spend 20 years behind bars for uploading and sharing child pornography on a social media outlet.

Neel, 58, was arrested last year and charged with one count of child exploitation for possession of child pornography after an investigation into his suspicious online activity. He was already on the Mississippi Sex Offender Registry for convictions in 1985.

Tate County Circuit Court Judge James McClure, III sentenced Neel to 40 years in prison Thursday with 20 to serve, 20 suspended, and five years post release supervision. He must pay $1,000 to the Victim’s Compensation Fund, $1,000 to the Mississippi Children’s Trust Fund, and must register as a sex offender.

“This sexual predator, having previously been convicted of unnatural intercourse, sexual battery, and touching a mentally incapacitated child for lustful purposes, is a prime example why we in law enforcement take child porn and sex offenses so seriously. They will not stop until we remove them from society,” General Hood said. “May God heal his victims and have mercy on his soul.”

This case was investigated by AG Cyber Crime Unit Investigator Wayne Lynch with assistance from the Tate County Sheriff’s Department. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Tina Herron. 

To date, 172 people have been convicted of child exploitation crimes by General Hood’s ICAC Task Force.


AGs File Motion to Unseal Generic Drug Price Fixing Complaint

June 7, 2019

Attorney General Jim Hood joined a 44-state coalition in a motion Thursday to unseal their complaint against Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 of the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers. The complaint, filed on May 10 in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, alleges a broad conspiracy to artificially inflate and manipulate prices, reduce competition, and unreasonably restrain trade for more than 100 different drugs.

“The patients are the ones harmed by these companies’ greed, so they should be able to read on their own just how extensive this conspiracy is between the companies fixing their drug prices,” General Hood said. “These are every day drugs that Americans rely on. We’re asking the court to show America the startling evidence we’ve uncovered.”

This complaint is the second to be filed in an ongoing, expanding investigation, which may be the largest cartel case in the history of the United States. The first complaint was similarly filed under seal initially and later released in full with permission from the court. 


Washington County Store Owner Convicted for Drug Trafficking

May 31, 2019

Mohamed Anagi Mohamed, 48, was convicted on one count of drug trafficking for trafficking 10 pounds of Khat.

A Greenville man faces 40 years in prison after being convicted by a Washington County jury for trafficking approximately 10 pounds of a controlled substance, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Mohamed Anagi Mohamed, 48, was convicted Thursday on one count of drug trafficking. In 2015, investigators found Mohammed selling a Schedule I controlled substance known as “Khat” from both his business, the Hakims Mini Mart, and his home. Other items seized were consistent with the sale of controlled substances, including digital scales.

After he was found guilty, Mohamed was remanded into the custody of the Washington County Correctional Facility. He is awaiting his sentencing date which will be set by Washington County Circuit Court Judge Ashley Hines.

Khat is popular in Somalia, Ethiopia and Yemen. It is a plant that contains a powerful central nervous system stimulant, and chronic use has been known to cause grandiose delusions, violence, suicidal depression and paranoid delusions. The leaves and stem tips are chewed, and Khat is sold either as a plant or in dried form.

“This investigation started as a counterfeit drug investigation and developed into a large controlled substance case revealing this defendant was selling Khat from his convenience store in $100 quantities,” General Hood said. “I appreciate the work of the many dedicated agencies and the decision made by the jury to get this dangerous man out of our communities and cut off his means to traffic drugs in our state.”

This case was investigated by Keith Milsap and Lee McDivitt of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Mississippi Crime Lab, Criminal Interdiction Unit of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, and Greenville Police Department. Special Assistant Attorney General Patrick Beasley and Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander handled the prosecution.


Hattiesburg Woman Arrested for Insurance Fraud

May 24, 2019

A 56-year-old Hattiesburg woman turned herself in Friday morning on a one-count indictment for insurance fraud, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Enotris Jordan was indicted by a Forrest County grand jury for filing a false insurance claim under a deceased man’s name. The benefits were sent to Jordan, and she converted them for her own use, according to the indictment. She was booked into the Forrest County Detention Center.

If convicted, Jordan faces up to three years in prison and $5,000 in fines. 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 AG Investigator Justin Harris and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders, both with the AG’s Public Integrity Division.


Two Arrested for Possessing Child Pornography

May 24, 2019

Two men were arrested this week in separate cases after investigators discovered suspicious online activity, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

William Dale Scrimpshire, 65, of Pachuta, and William Andrew Chapman, 36, of Columbia, were arrested at their homes and charged with two counts of child exploitation for possession of child pornography. If convicted, they both face up to 80 years in prison.

Scrimpshire was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Clarke County Detention Center. Chapman was arrested Thursday and booked into the Marion County Adult Correctional Facility.

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.

These cases were investigated by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance from the Clarke County Sheriff’s Department, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Columbia Police Department, and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. They will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.