Laurel Woman Arrested for Possessing Child Pornography

May 17, 2018

A 35-year-old woman was arrested at her Laurel home Wednesday on one count of child exploitation for possession of child pornography, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Kristina Lee was arrested by the AG’s Cyber Crime Unit after an investigation into her suspicious online activity. She was booked into the Jones County Adult Correctional Facility.

If convicted, Lee faces up to 40 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 the Mississippi Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


Former Hattiesburg Candidate Pleads Guilty to Voting Outside of District

May 14, 2018

A Hattiesburg man who ran for an open state representative seat last year was sentenced Monday morning after pleading guilty to voting outside of his legal district, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Cory Ferraez, 28, was sentenced by Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge Lee Coleman to six months in the custody of the county jail with all six months suspended. He was ordered to pay a $200 fine, $200 assessment to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, and all court costs.

Ferraez illegally voted in a 2015 election in Lowndes County even though he was living in Hattiesburg. He was arrested on a capias in December following an indictment by a Lowndes County grand jury. He was indicted for swearing to a false application for absentee ballot, in addition to voting outside of his legal domicile, but the first charge was dropped in exchange for his guilty plea to count two.

“The defendant is a lawyer, who appeared before the State Election Commission, and was warned by my Deputy AG on the record that it is illegal to claim residency in one place yet vote in another,” said General Hood. “He was told that an investigator was present and recording the meeting. When he qualified to run, he filed a sworn statement that he had lived in Hattiesburg for the two year period required by law. At the Election Commission meeting, he was confronted with his Lowndes County voter record during those two years. It is voter fraud to vote where you do not reside. Of all people, a lawyer should follow the law, especially after he was given the courtesy warning.”

This case was investigated by Roger Wade and prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander, both with the AG’s Public Integrity Division.


Holmes County Man Sentenced for Breaking into Dollar General

May 14, 2018

A 20-year-old man who broke into a Dollar General last year pleaded guilty to the crime and will spend two years in jail, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Michael Amos, of Goodman, was sentenced Friday by Holmes County Circuit Court Judge Janie Lewis on one count of business burglary. He was sentenced to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with two of those years to serve, three years suspended, and three years post-release supervision.

Amos was arrested by the Pickens Police Department in January 2017 for breaking into a Pickens Dollar General with another person by using a shopping cart. The alarm alerted police to the scene, and although Amos and his accomplice were no longer there, police found items missing including cigarettes, wine, and cell phones. A tip led police to Amos that day, at which point he was arrested and charged.

“I hope this young man will learn a lesson while he’s behind bars that no item in a store is worth spending part of your life in a jail cell,” said General Hood. “The successful response to the crime and locating of the suspect was a joint effort by the Pickens Police Department and Holmes County Sheriff’s Office. I offer a job well done to both agencies.”

A conflict of interest at the district attorney’s office sent this case to the attorney general. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders with the AG’s Public Integrity Division.


Clinton Man Arrested for Possessing Child Pornography

May 10, 2018

A 73-year-old man was arrested at his Clinton home Wednesday on one count of child exploitation for possession of child pornography, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Terry Baum was arrested by investigators in the AG’s Cyber Crime Unit after an investigation into his suspicious online activity. He was booked into the Clinton Police Department on a $500,000 bond.

If convicted, Baum faces up to 40 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 the Mississippi Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance from the Clinton Police Department. It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


Brookhaven Man Sentenced on 3 Counts of Child Exploitation

May 4, 2018

A 57-year-old Brookhaven man will spend 10 years in prison for possessing and distributing child pornography, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Danny Carlisle was sentenced Thursday after pleading guilty to all three counts before Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge David Strong. Carlisle was indicted in December on one count of child exploitation for possession of child pornography and two counts of child exploitation for distribution of child pornography. Judge Strong sentenced him to 40 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with 10 years to serve and 30 years suspended on each count. The sentences will run concurrently. He also received five years post release supervision, $5,000 in fines for each count, was ordered to pay $1,000 to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund and $1,000 to the Children’s Trust Fund, and he must register as a sex offender.

An investigation discovered Carlisle had images of children as young as toddlers being sexually exploited. He uploaded those images to a Google account, which then alerted the attorney general’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force of the illegal activity. Investigators also seized a doll that Carlisle transformed to look like a seven-year-old girl.

“Thanks to Judge Strong’s sentencing, another pervert is no longer a threat to our children,” said General Hood.

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.


Father Pleads Guilty to Not Paying Child Support for 6 Years

May 2, 2018

A Hinds County father must pay back more than $16,000 to make up for failing to pay his daughter’s child support for six years, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd ordered 38-year-old Terrance Demon Burns to pay $16,340 in restitution after failing to pay child support for nearly six years. Burns, who pleaded guilty to the charge, was sentenced to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with all five years suspended. Three of those years will be on supervised probation followed by two years unsupervised.

“Anyone who abandons their duty as a parent must pay for it, and I thank Judge Kidd for seeing to it that this mother and child are properly repaid for what this father failed to do,” said General Hood.

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Purdie of the AG’s Child Desertion Unit.


AG Hood Alerts Consumers About Computer Scams

May 2, 2018

A pop-up alert on your computer that appears to be a technical support message could be an effort to steal your personal information, warned Attorney General Jim Hood.

The Consumer Protection Division in the Attorney General’s Office has seen a recent increase in these types of scams, where tech support scammers use pop-ups that resemble security alerts from Microsoft, Apple, or other companies. The alerts warn that the user’s computer is hacked or infected with viruses. Some pop-ups even feature a countdown clock, supposedly showing the time remaining before the hard drive will be fried—unless the consumer calls a toll-free number supposedly affiliated with one of those big-name companies.

Do not call that number—instead, shut your computer down immediately. When a person calls that number, scammers may pose as a security, customer, or technical support representative offering to resolve such issues as a compromised email or bank account, a virus on a computer, or to assist with a software license renewal.

“Once a person gets on the phone, that’s when they become most vulnerable to these con artists,” explained General Hood. “The operators instruct you to go to your computer and hit certain keys or links. When you do this, you are giving the scammers “remote access” or control of your computer, which allows them to access your personal information and online accounts.”

The scammers claim that they need “remote access” or control of your computer to run tests that they claim reveal grave problems that can only be solved by one of their “certified technicians” for a hefty fee. Do not give access to your computer unless you are speaking with a trusted source whom you voluntarily contacted. In this type of scam, high-pressure tactics are used to strong-arm consumers into paying hundreds of dollars for unnecessary repairs, anti-virus protection or software, and other products and services.

Here’s an example of a pitch in action:

SUGGESTIONS FOR PROTECTION

  • Remember that legitimate customer, security, or tech support companies will not initiate unsolicited contact with individuals.
  • Install ad-blocking software that eliminates or reduces pop-ups and malvertising (online advertising to spread malware).
  • Be cautious of customer support numbers obtained via open source searching (searching for phone numbers on the internet).
  • Recognize fraudulent attempts and cease all communication with the scammer.
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly. Scammers will urge you to act fast to protect your device. The scammers create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure you into immediate action.
  • Do not give unknown, unverified persons remote access or control of devices or accounts.
  • Ensure all computer anti-virus, security, and malware protection is up to date.

IF YOU ARE A VICTIM

  • If you receive a pop-up or locked screen, shut down the device immediately. Ignore any pop-ups instructing to not power off or restart the computer.  Shutting down the device and waiting a short time to restart may cause the pop-up or screen lock to disappear.
  • Do not re-contact fraudulent tech scam companies. Expect additional fraudulent calls as these companies often share their customer database information.
  • Should a criminal gain access to a device or an account, you should take precautions to protect your identity. Immediately contact financial institutions to place protection on accounts as well as change passwords and actively monitor accounts and personal information for suspicious activity.
  • You should also have your device inspected by a trusted professional to determine whether any malware or viruses exist and/or whether your hard drive should be wiped clean and the operating system reinstalled.
  • Contact the AG’s Consumer Protection Division at 601-359-4230 or 800-281-4418.


Jackson Man To Serve 20 Years For Shooting, Burglary

May 1, 2018

A 36-year-old man was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges stemming from a shooting and unrelated burglaries, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

“This is a man who was given a second chance and didn’t do right,” said General Hood. Maurice Humphrey, 36, was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges stemming from a shooting and unrelated burglaries.

Maurice Humphrey of Jackson was sentenced Monday by Hinds County Circuit Court Jeff Weill to a total of 35 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with 20 of those years to serve, on charges of aggravated assault, felon with a firearm, house burglary, and accessory after the fact to house burglary. He is also now deemed a habitual offender.

The aggravated assault and felon with a firearm sentences are related to a June 2015 indictment in which Humphrey was charged in the March 2015 shooting of Michael Anthony Bennett Jr. Humphrey shot him in the abdomen, right arm, and right leg. He was not legally allowed to possess the weapon due to convictions of house burglary in 2001 and auto theft in 2002. The aggravated assault sentence carried 20 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with 15 years to serve and five years suspended on post-release supervision, with credit for time served. It will run concurrent to the felon with a firearm sentence, which was five years to serve with credit for time served.

Humphrey also pled guilty to one count of house burglary in the November 2015 burglary of Robert Lee Boyd’s Jackson home on Audubon Park Drive. He was indicted in February 2016 and sentenced Monday to five years to serve with credit for time served, which will run consecutive to the aggravated assault, felon with a firearm, and accessory sentences.

Additionally, Humphrey pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact of house burglary for the January 2016 burglary of Elenor Fontaine’s Jackson home on Cabell Lane. He was indicted in May 2016 for assisting in or concealing the felonious crime. Judge Weill sentenced Humphrey to five years to serve with credit for time served, and it will run concurrent with the aggravated assault and felon with a firearm sentences.

“This is a man who was given a second chance and didn’t do right,” said General Hood. “Thank you to Judge Weill for being sure this repeat criminal is behind bars and away from harming others in our community.”

This case was given to the Attorney General’s Office upon recusal of the Hinds County District Attorney. It was investigated by Perry Tate and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders, both of the AG’s Public Integrity Division.