A Copiah County man turned himself in Wednesday on a nine count indictment that alleged he raped children over whom he was in a position of trust, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.
Michael Holifield, 45, of Crystal Springs was indicted by a Copiah County grand jury on four counts of sexual battery, three counts of gratification of lust, and two counts of statutory rape. He has since posted bond. Holifield is accused of having both sexual intercourse and oral sex with the children on multiple occasions and at multiple locations between March 2013 and November 2014.
If convicted on all nine counts, Holifield faces up to 225 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.
This case was investigated by AG Investigators Larry Ware and Crystal Tillman-Palmer. It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Patrick Beasley.
Jimmy Lee Edwards, Jr. was sentenced Monday to four years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing $19,070.74 from his father while he was in hospice care, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.
Edwards, 54, of Crystal Springs, was sentenced by Copiah County Circuit Court Judge Lamar Pickard on one count of exploitation of a vulnerable person. Judge Pickard sentenced Edwards to 10 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with six years suspended and four years to serve. He was placed on three years of supervised probation upon his release, ordered to pay a fine of $2,000 to Copiah County, $500 to the state’s Crime Victim Compensation Fund, and all court costs. Edwards was also ordered to enter an agreed judgement in the amount of $19,070.74, which orders him to repay the victim upon release from prison. The indictment states that Edwards stole the money between December 2015 and April 2017, which came from his father’s personal checking account and included social security benefits.
“Unfortunately, these types of cases are common, and they are often difficult to prove due to the victim’s medical state and because family members may eventually have a right to the funds,” said General Hood. “It’s important for families to make sure they are taking proper measures before drawing money from a loved one’s account, such as having in writing who has access and by keeping a check on the bank account activity to prevent fraud by another family member or a caregiver.”
This case was investigated by Jamie Patrick and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Steven Waldrup, both with the AG’s Public Integrity Division.
Guy E. “Butch” Evans, an insurance agent licensed to do business with the state of Mississippi, settled with the state for $100,000 for his involvement in the Epps prison bribery scandal, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.
In 2012, then-Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Christopher Epps, through official actions, designated Evans as the “Broker of Record” for MDOC, allowing him to sell supplemental insurance policies to MDOC employees. Knowing that Epps could rescind this designation, Evans collected more than $73,000 in profits and then made a total of $19,200 in cash payments to Epps, beginning in January 2013 and lasting for at least one year. Evans was sentenced Tuesday in federal court to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine after pleading guilty to one count of aiding and abetting tax fraud.
“We were able to disgorge him of his profit and then some. Crime still does not pay.” said Attorney General Hood. “I appreciate all of the hard work by the FBI in investigating these crimes. We will continue to pursue money owed the state in civil cases and continue our investigation into newly discovered matters.”
To date, General Hood has announced the recovery of $6,650,000.00 on behalf of Mississippi taxpayers related to his office’s investigations and ensuing litigation in the Epps prison bribery scandal.
A former employee at J & D Transportation in McCombwas arrested Monday for simple assault of a vulnerable person, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.
Demichael Paul Williams, 42, of McComb, was arrested following an indictment by a Lincoln County grand jury on one count of felony simple assault of a vulnerable person. Williams is accused of recklessly failing to strap the victim into her wheelchair for transport by van causing her fall out the wheelchair and suffer a compression fracture in her back in May 2017. At the time of the crime, Williams was employed at J & D Transportation, the transportation service contracted by Havenhall Health Care Center in Brookhaven to transport patients for outside medical treatment. The victim was a patient at Havenhall Health Care Center.
Williams was booked into the Lincoln County jail and released on a $10,000 bond. If convicted, Williams faces up to 5 years in prison and $1,000 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 John David Flowers with the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Mark Ward and Parker Wiseman.
A Clinton nurse turned herself in to police Thursday on a one-count felony indictment of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.
Donna Renee Runkle, 58, of Clinton, was indicted by a Hinds County grand jury for taking hydrocodone and acetaminophen prescribed to a patient and obtaining it for her own use. Runkle was employed as a registered nurse at Woodlands Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Clinton at the time of the alleged crime. Her bond was set at $2,500.
If convicted, she faces up to five 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.
This case was investigated by Joel Houston of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Katie Moulds.
Attorney General Jim Hood is urging Congressional leadership to vote against HR 3299 (“Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017”) and HR 4439 (“Modernizing Credit Opportunities Act”), two bills that would invalidate a state’s ability to protect consumers from high interest loans and undermine a state’s ability to enforce consumer protection laws.
General Hood sent a letter to Congressional leaders last week with a bipartisan group of 20 other attorneys general expressing their opposition to the proposed legislation. As the attorneys general expressed in the letter, HR 3299 and HR 4439 would constitute a substantial expansion of the preemption of state usury laws, which have long been recognized as the purview of the individual states. Over decades, states have crafted laws that create a careful balance between the need for access to credit and the need to ensure that loans are offered on terms that do not create consumer harm. However, if passed, these bills would allow non-bank lenders to sidestep state usury laws and charge excessive interest rates that would otherwise be illegal under state law.
“It is my duty as attorney general to protect Mississippians from predatory business practices and those who take advantage of their customers in financial need,” said General Hood. “The bills in front of Congress would limit a state’s ability to protect consumer rights and make it easier for non-bank lenders to deceive and mislead. I urge our Congressional leaders to stand up for consumers by voting against this legislation.”
In addition to Mississippi, attorneys general from the following states signed the letter: California, Colorado District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
A Gulfport man was arrested Thursday and charged with one felony count each of kidnapping and simple assault of a vulnerable person, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.
Michael D. Hillie, 30, was arrested by the Gulfport Police Department on a warrant. He remains in the Harrison County jail without bond because he was out on a bond for a previous charge of felony abuse of a vulnerable person.
If convicted on the felony simple assault of a vulnerable person charge, Hillie faces up to five years in prison. The felony kidnapping charge carries up to a life sentence if set by a jury or a maximum of 30 years if set by a judge. 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 Garland Ward of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Mark Ward.
The following is a statement from Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood in response to Thursday’s United States Supreme Court ruling allowing states to require online retailers to collect sales taxes:
“Today’s ruling is a victory for our Main Street merchants in Mississippi. It puts them on a level playing field with large, out-of-state and international corporations. We attorneys general have been extremely successful in convincing the United States Supreme Court that the United States Constitution protects the states from federal legislative and judicial overreach. I don’t think I have lost on any of these cases where huge international corporations try to use our Congress or federal courts to preempt state laws designed to protect our consumers and state laws.
“I have supported an internet sales tax from the beginning, not only because it will bring an estimated $50 million in the first year for our state, but because this means our local brick and mortar stores are now on a level playing field with businesses that have no storefront in Mississippi. Before Amazon and others started paying voluntarily, the estimated internet sales tax collection for Mississippi was $134 million. Sales taxes from internet purchases from companies without in-state stores were already owed. It was just a matter of who collected it.
“We live in a digital age, and our laws must reflect that. Online shopping may be convenient, but it’s had a negative impact on our Main Street merchants who have always been required to charge a sales tax. When our local businesses suffer, so do we. Now, there’s no difference in someone walking into a store to buy shoes and sitting on their couch and doing the same thing from their phone. Today’s ruling makes it a fairer market and creates an opportunity for our cash-strapped state to bring in a new revenue stream to fix our deteriorating roads and bridges and fund our children’s education.”
General Hood has joined four amicus briefs in three United States Supreme Court cases on the issues of internet sales tax collections in the states.