Jackson Man Going to Prison for Possession of a Firearm, Cocaine and Receiving Stolen Property

July 26, 2016
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Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Hinds County man has been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to multiple felony charges.

Marcus Randall, 34, pleaded guilty Monday in Hinds County Circuit Court to one count of felon in possession of a firearm, one count of possession of cocaine and one count of receiving stolen property.

Circuit Judge Jeff Weill, Sr., sentenced Randall to 18 years in prison, with five of those years suspended, followed by three years of post-release supervision. Randall was also ordered to pay $500 to the Mississippi Crime Victim Compensation Fund.

Randall was arrested in September 2013 after deputies with the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at Randall’s residence following an anonymous tip. The search led to the discovery of two stolen riding lawnmowers, nearly two grams of cocaine and two .38-caliber revolvers.

This case was investigated by the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office with assistance by Investigator Perry Tate of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.  Prosecution was handled by Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander after a recusal by the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office.

Greenville Resident Arraigned on Multiple Charges

July 19, 2016
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Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that an 18-year-old Greenville man has been formally charged with auto burglary, aggravated assault and possessing a stolen firearm.

Kordell Harper was indicted in June by a Washington County grand jury on three counts of auto burglary, one count of aggravated assault, one count of shooting into an occupied dwelling and one count of possession of a stolen firearm. He was arraigned Monday in Washington County Circuit Court before Judge Ashley Hines.

According to the indictment, Harper broke into a 2014 Honda Accord on Dec. 14 of last year, intending to steal items inside the vehicle. Additionally, Harper allegedly broke into a 2012 Toyota Camry and 2015 Nissan Altima on December 23. The defendant is accused of discharging a gun into a residence in an attempt to shoot a man who was inside the dwelling. The .38-caliber revolver used in the shooting had been reported stolen, the indictment stated.

Harper remains in custody at the Washington County Jail. If convicted, he faces the sentences of 21 years in prison for auto burglary, 20 years for aggravated assault, 10 years for shooting in an occupied dwelling and five years for possessing a stolen firearm.

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.

The case was investigated by the Greenville Police Department with assistance from Investigator Roger Wade of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division. Prosecution will be handled by Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander.

AG Hood Issues Statement on Decision Not to Appeal Injunction in HB1523 Lawsuit

July 13, 2016
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After careful review of the law, and the social and fiscal impacts of HB 1523, I have decided not to appeal the Federal Court’s injunction in this case against me. I am convinced that continuing this divisive and expensive litigation is not in the best interests of the state of Mississippi or its taxpayers.

First, both HB 1523’s critics and supporters acknowledge that the bill did not change state or federal law. For example, there is no state law requiring pastors to marry same-sex couples, and I doubt that the Legislature would ever pass one.  Moreover, the Mississippi Legislature has already passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which protects a person’s right to exercise his or her religious beliefs.  HB 1523’s critics and supporters also recognize that HB 1523 cannot overturn or preempt federal law.  As acknowledged by our Governor, HB 1523 is not a defense to a federal lawsuit.

Simply stated, all HB 1523 has done is tarnish Mississippi’s image while distracting us from the more pressing issues of decaying roads and bridges, underfunding of public education, the plight of the mentally ill and the need to solve our state’s financial mess.

Instead of focusing on these critical issues, our state leaders have given away the store by handing tax breaks to big corporations that neither need nor deserve them. Due to the leadership’s corporate handouts, corporations have paid $117.8 million less in taxes in FY2016 than FY2015, according to the Legislative Budget Office.  That is a 16 percent tax cut for big corporations in one year. These corporate tax cuts will conservatively increase to at least $181 million during this fiscal year, according to LBO. In addition to the $56 million legislative “mistake”, at least another $79 million will not be available next year, for a bare minimum of a $135 million budget hole. The numbers do not lie that we have a budget crisis that will cause a danger to our families from the mentally ill problem alone.

Second, to appeal HB 1523 and fight for an empty bill that dupes one segment of our population into believing it has merit while discriminating against another is just plain wrong. I don’t believe that’s the way to carry out Jesus’ primary directives to protect the least among us and to love thy neighbor.

But make no mistake, the Office of Attorney General is prepared to protect religious freedoms and defend our First Amendment rights if and when the facts so justify in future cases.

Public employees, including elected officials, have an unspoken contract with the state to follow the law. Misinformation that, without HB 1523, pastors, churches, bakers, wedding planners or other private service providers will be forced to violate their religious beliefs has been used repeatedly to frighten our citizens into supporting the dogmatic politicians who use religion for political gain.

In the event that the Federal Court’s injunction were overturned on appeal, this litigation would not end. These cases would be set for a full evidentiary trial.  Other challenges would likely be filed.  The state would face years of additional and expensive litigation over HB 1523’s implementation.  My office is already spending its limited resources defending numerous lawsuits challenging recent bills enacted by the Legislature regarding abortion restrictions, MAEP funding, Planned Parenthood funding, the Jackson-Evers International Airport and charter schools. In addition, my office will continue to try to serve the families of homicide victims as well as surviving victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and other violent crimes, including our injured law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders. We will attempt to do all of this as the Legislature hands out ill-advised tax cuts to corporations, runs a budget deficit, slashes funding for this office and other state agencies, and cuts critical services to citizens.

I will, however, continue to monitor the lawsuits regarding HB 1523 and may appeal the federal court’s June 27 decision to reopen the closed same-sex marriage case depending on the wording of the Court’s final order.  I don’t believe a federal court had jurisdiction to extend the previous injunction to all circuit clerks who were not parties.

Jackson Man Going to Prison for Accessory Before the Fact to Burglary

July 8, 2016
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A Hinds county man has been sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to being an accessory before the fact to burglary, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Luscious Perkins, 36, of Jackson, was sentenced Thursday by Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Tommie Green. Judge Green sentenced Perkins to 15 years in prison, with five of those years suspended, followed by three years of post-release supervision.

At the time of the crime in November 2013, Perkins loaned a crowbar to another individual who used it to break into the home of Tony Brown of Jackson. The break-in led to the murder of Brown. There was no evidence that linked Perkins to the homicide, nor was he present at the home at the time of the homicide.

”We appreciate the strong efforts and brave work of the Jackson Police Department, which continuously fights to put criminals behind bars every day in the city of Jackson,” Attorney General Jim Hood said. “We also thank Judge Green for the sentence.”

This case was investigated by the Jackson Police Department with assistance by Investigator Perry Tate of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.  Prosecution was handled by Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander after the recusal of the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office.



Meridian Man Going to Prison for Arson

July 6, 2016

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Meridian man is going to prison for purposefully setting fire to two houses.

James William Wiggins, 52, was sentenced Wednesday by Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Lester Williamson on one count of first-degree arson and one count of second-degree arson. Wiggins entered an open plea on May 31, 2016.

Judge Williamson sentenced Wiggins to serve 20 years in prison for first-degree arson with15 of those years suspended and five years to serve, followed by five years of post-release supervision. On the second-degree arson count, Wiggins was sentenced to 10 years in prison with eight of those years suspended and two years to serve, followed by five years of post-release supervision. The sentences will run concurrently, meaning Wiggins will serve a total of five years behind bars. Additionally, Wiggins was ordered to pay more than $2,800 in fines and court costs.

The case was a joint criminal investigation led by Kevin Butler of the State Fire Marshal’s Office and Jeffrey Willis of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations. Investigator Ronnie Odom of the Attorney General’s Office assisted in the investigation.

Wiggins confessed to intentionally setting fires to two homes in Meridian that were owned by his son, providing corroborating details of how he committed the crimes that were consistent with the evidence in the criminal investigation. The first fire was August 23, 2013, and the second was on March 12, 2014.

“We appreciate the sentence handed down by Judge Williamson, putting this man behind bars and ensuring he pays the consequences of these criminal acts,” Attorney General Hood said. “We applaud and admire the State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations for their leadership and hard work on this case. This case is another prime example of how our agencies collaborating will only work for us to assure criminals like this man in our state are brought to justice.”

“Teamwork is a cornerstone of good law enforcement and our thanks go to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations and the Attorney General’s Office for their assistance in solving and prosecuting this case,” Mississippi Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Ricky Davis said.

“We routinely join forces with other law enforcement agencies, from local to state to federal levels. Each entity has specific resources and skill sets,” said MBI Director Lt. Colonel Jimmy Jordan. “With a unified effort we are able to apply incredible pressure on the criminal element in our state and that was evident in this case.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander and Special Assistant Attorney General Kimberly T. Purdie.



Two Jackson Men Going to Prison for Auto Theft

July 6, 2016
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Two Jackson men have been sentenced for auto theft, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Satchel Tolbert, 21, and Jeremy Powe, 23, both of Jackson, appeared Monday before Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Weill, Sr., and pleaded guilty to one count of auto theft.  Judge Weill sentenced Tolbert and Powe 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.

Tolbert and Powe, along with two additional co-defendants, participated in stealing a vehicle following an altercation in May 2013, which resulted in the death of R.B. Ervin, 66, of Jackson.  The vehicle belonged to the victim.  All four defendants in this case were charged with capital murder.  The joint investigation of this case between the Attorney General’s Office and the Jackson Police Department revealed that only one defendant was involved with the shooting of the victim.  That individual was sentenced to 25 years during the last term of court.

“We appreciate Judge Weill for holding all four of the defendants accountable for their horrendous actions in this heinous crime that took the life of Mr. Ervin,” Attorney General Hood said.  “As we close this case, we would like to thank the Jackson Police Department for their solid efforts and assistance which led to the successful prosecution of the defendants.”

The Attorney General’s Office was appointed to the case by the Hinds County Circuit Court after local prosecutors recused themselves.  The case was investigated by Perry Tate and prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.



Attorney General’s Office Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement Division Compliance Check Yields Citations in Tupelo for Selling Alcohol to Minors

July 5, 2016
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The Mississippi Attorney General’s Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement Division in conjunction with the Tupelo Police Department recently conducted alcohol and beer compliance checks in Tupelo resulting in the issuance of five citations for selling alcohol to minors, Attorney General Jim Hood announced today.

“As both Attorney General and the father of three, I strongly believe we all have a vested interest in the fight against underage drinking,” Attorney General Hood said.  “The time to address underage drinking is before it comes into court as an alcohol-fueled assault or a car crash that takes the life of a loved one.”

Under Mississippi law, any person selling alcohol to a person younger than 21 can face a fine of up to $500, up to six months in jail, or both.  Any place of business making a sale of beer to an underage person can be fined and/or face administrative charges.  For a first offense, a retailer may be fined not less than $500 but not more than $1,000 and/or be prohibited from selling beer for three months. For a second offense occurring within 12 months of the first offense, a retailer faces a fine of not less than $500 but not more than $1,500 and may be prohibited from selling beer for six months. For a third offense occurring within 12 months of the first offense, a retailer faces a fine of not less than $1,000 but not more than $5,000 and may be prohibited from selling beer for one year.

“The law simply states that it is illegal in Mississippi to sell alcohol to anyone under the age of 21,” Attorney General Hood said. “At the heart of this law is the safety of our children, and we must each do our part to prevent minors’ from having access to alcohol.”

The following businesses in Tupelo received citations when checked for compliance on selling alcohol to minors:

Mugshots                                             374 E Main Street                      VIOLATION

Rita’s Grill Bar                                       789 Moncrief Building 1             VIOLATION

Kyoto Japanese Steakhouse                 1044 Commonwealth Blvd         VIOLATION

Chili’s Grill and Bar                                3196 N Gloster Street                VIOLATION

Fast Lane 1                                           3914 N Gloster Street                2 VIOLATIONS
                                                                                                    2nd Offense w/in a year    

The following businesses in Tupelo did not receive a citation when checked for compliance on selling alcohol to minors:

Blue Canoe                               2006 N Gloster Street

Fairpark Grill                             343 E Main Street

Outback Steakhouse                 1348 N Gloster Street

Stables Downtown Grill              206 N Spring Street

“We appreciate the good working relationship we have with the Attorney General’s Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement Unit and will continue to combat underage drinking and the selling of alcohol to minors in Tupelo,” Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre said.  “I encourage our retailers to obey the law and always check IDs as we continue to do everything we can to try and keep alcohol out of the hands of our kids.”

During the past fiscal year, the Attorney General’s Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement Unit has conducted more than 6,677 alcohol compliance checks with 208 buys for a 3.12% buy rate across the state.


Attorney General Jim Hood Issued the Following Statement on Judge Carlton Reeves’ Ruling Regarding HB 1523

July 1, 2016
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“The federal court’s ruling was straightforward and clear.  On page 9, the court quotes statements made by legislators, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor.  The court found that those statements, along with the inclusion of the term “sincerely held religious beliefs” and the definition thereof in HB 1523, were strong evidence that the law was unconstitutional.  “In 2014, the state enacted the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, which created a right of citizens to sue the state in state court if they felt that their religious freedoms were being overburdened. The federal court observed that this act was already in law when those officials went for a second victory lap to reinvigorate the support of churchgoing people by passing HB 1523 in an overtly political fashion.

“I can’t pick my clients, but I can speak for myself as a named defendant in this lawsuit. The fact is that the churchgoing public was duped into believing that HB1523 protected religious freedoms. Our state leaders attempted to mislead pastors into believing that if this bill were not passed, they would have to preside over gay wedding ceremonies.  No court case has ever said a pastor did not have discretion to refuse to marry any couple for any reason.  I hate to see politicians continue to prey on people who pray, go to church, follow the law and help their fellow man.

“Our attorneys will evaluate this decision to determine whether or not to appeal all or parts of Thursday’s ruling. We do intend to appeal the Court’s decision earlier in the week to extend the injunction to cover circuit clerks, who were never parties to the case.

“I believe in the free exercise of religion and there will be a case in the future in which the U.S. Supreme Court will better define our religious rights.  This case, however, is not that vehicle.  “In consideration of the individual rights of all our citizens, the state’s current budget crisis and the cost of appeal, I will have to think long and hard about spending taxpayer money to appeal the case against me.  An appeal could cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars. For example, North Carolina has set aside $500,000 for defense of its bathroom law. Even if we won and the injunction were set aside on appeal, the case would be remanded and proceed to trial over about two years.  Because of the huge tax breaks handed out to big corporations by these same leaders, the state is throwing mentally ill patients out on the street.  This is hardly protecting the least among us as Jesus directed.”