Adams County Man Sentenced for Aggravated Assault

December 2, 2016

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that the last of three men charged in connection with a February 2014 shooting death in Adams County has been convicted of aggravated assault for his role in the crime.

Alan T. Thomas, 35, of Natchez, pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated assault before Judge Forrest Johnson in Adams County Circuit Court. Thomas was sentenced to 15 years in prison with 10 months already served and 14 years, two months suspended. Additionally, Thomas must serve 10 years of post-release supervision, pay $500 to the Mississippi Crime Victim Compensation Fund, and pay all court costs.

The investigation did not reveal any substantial evidence that Thomas had prior knowledge of any potential criminal activity before arriving at the victim’s residence. Thomas drove his two co-defendants to the victim’s home, then joined them in entering the home prior to the commission of the attempted robbery and murder.

Maurice Davis, of Natchez was sentenced last week for manslaughter to 15 years in prison with 10 years suspended, leaving five years to serve and 10 years of post-release supervision. Jhakeel Hawkins, of Natchez, was sentenced for aggravated assault Tuesday to 15 years in prison with 10 years suspended, leaving five years to serve and 10 years of post-release supervision.

The Attorney General’s Office took over the case following a recusal by the Adams County District Attorney’s Office. The case was investigated by the Natchez Police Department and Investigator Jerry Spell of the Attorney General’s Office. Special Assistant Attorneys General Marvin Sanders and Kimberly Purdie prosecuted the case.


Attorney General Jim Hood Reminds Storm Victims of Post-Storm Dangers from Scammers

December 1, 2016

Attorney General Jim Hood wants to remind Mississippians who suffer property damage as a result of severe storms or flooding to be on alert for scam artists and aware of the many dangers that come from scammers following disasters and storm damage.

“Our thoughts go out to our friends and neighbors around the state who have been impacted by the recent storms.  Our job is to ensure that Mississippi storm victims are not victimized again by unscrupulous contractors or other scam artists who prey on misfortune,” Attorney General Hood said.

Following storms like those in Mississippi this week, many scams involve tree removal and related repairs. Here are some tips to protect you and your loved ones from fraudulent tree cutters, roofers and others:

·       Verify that the company you are considering is insured. Ask for a copy of the certificate of insurance.

·       Do your research.  Contact our Consumer Protection Division or the Better Business Bureau of Mississippi to see if they have complaints against the company. Ask for several local references that are recent of at least one year-old and make sure to follow through on checking them. Look online at reviews of their work.

·       Take time to shop around and be suspicious of any price that seems unusually high or low. Get written estimates from more than one company and check with friends or family who’ve had tree work done recently to see what they paid and who they would recommend.

·       Ask how the job will be done and if they will perform the work according to industry standards.  For tree removal services, pay attention to the “lingo” such as “topping a tree,” “lion’s-tailing” or “using climbing spikes to prune a tree.” If you hear these sayings, the company may not follow industry standards.  “Topping” is drastically cutting back the major limbs of a tree to reduce its size.  “Lion’s tailing” is an extreme stripping out of most of the interior branches of a tree.  Sometimes these techniques will be presented as a way to save money by removing more of the tree at one time. However, these practices can injure or kill your tree a tree, and trees pruned by one of these methods usually requires more expensive restoration work in the future in order to save it.

·       Ask about cleaning up and the debris removal after the job is done. Before the job is started, ask if the company will remove the tree, damaged roof, or other items from your property as well.  If you don’t, it could lead to you having to also pay for debris removal.

Additionally, Attorney General Hood offers these tips to help keep you from becoming a victim of home repair fraud:

·       Hire only licensed and bonded contractors.  Ask to see the license and verify the bond.

·       Use Mississippi contractors if you can. You can verify the contractor’s license and if they are insured by checking online at www.msboc.us

·       Be wary of supposed contractors who come to your home soliciting business. Most reputable contractors will be busy and won’t need to solicit business.

·       Always get more than one estimate. Three bids are recommended. Ensure that all quotes are in writing for the full scope of the work.

·       Request references and follow up with these references.  Don’t assume that just because a reference is provided that it is a positive one.

·       Put all of your terms in writing. A copy of a “model contract” can be found atwww.agjimhood.com. A contractor who won’t put pricing or warranty information in writing may be planning to defraud you.

“In situations following widespread damage to homes or businesses caused by storms, tornadoes or flash flooding, crooks will be on a scavenger hunt looking to take advantage of vulnerable homeowners,” Attorney General Hood said. “These con artists will take your money and run and any unskilled contractors could potentially perform careless work.”

Attorney General Hood urges you to educate yourself on how to best protect you and your family and to take time in advance of a storm to develop and practice emergency plans. Having necessary supplies on hand, a communications plan with your loved ones in place, and insurance and financial account information ready will assist consumers during and after a storm. More information can be found in “Consumer Tips for Storm Victims” as well as a copy of the “model contract,” which will help you avoid becoming a victim of home repair fraud.  Both of these resources can be found atwww.agjimhood.com.

In the aftermath of any storm or any other time, if you suspect home repair fraud or think you may have been conned by a scam artist, please contact the Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division at (601) 359-4230or (800) 281-4418.


Long Beach Man Faces Charge for Felony Embezzlement

December 1, 2016

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Long Beach resident was arrested for one count of felony embezzlement.

Everette Waits, 51, was arrested Tuesday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, with assistance from the Long Beach Police Department, following his indictment by a Hancock County grand jury. He was booked into the Hancock County Detention Center with a bond set at $20,000.

Waits is accused of accepting a personal check for $25,000 towards contracting work for a construction job and did not complete any of the work for a homeowner in Bay St. Louis. Waits allegedly converted the money to his own use.

The maximum sentence for embezzlement is 10 years in prison or a fine of $1,000. As with all cases, a charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case is being investigated by Shannon Beaver and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Mark Ward of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.

 


Adams County Man Sentenced for Aggravated Assault

November 30, 2016

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that an Adams County man has been convicted of aggravated assault in connection with his involvement in a February 2014 killing.

Jhakeel Hawkins, 23, of Natchez, pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated assault before Judge Forrest Johnson in Adams County Circuit Court. Hawkins was sentenced to 15 years in prison with 10 years suspended, leaving five years to serve. Hawkins was also sentenced to 10 years of post-release supervision and ordered to pay all court costs.

Hawkins and two co-defendants were accused of the attempted robbery and shooting death of Terrance Thornburg of Natchez in the early morning hours of Feb. 23, 2014. Maurice Davis, one of the co-defendants, was sentenced last week for manslaughter. The third co-defendant is awaiting trial.

“This is the second individual now sentenced to spend time behind bars for his role in this senseless act of violence,” Attorney General Hood said. “I appreciate all the work done on this case by my office and the Natchez Police Department, and I thank Judge Johnson for his sentence today.”

The Attorney General’s Office took over the case following a recusal by the Adams County District Attorney’s Office. The case was investigated by the Natchez Police Department and Investigator Jerry Spell of the Attorney General’s Office. Special Assistant Attorneys General Marvin Sanders and Kimberly Purdie prosecuted the case.


Adams County Man Convicted of Manslaughter

November 22, 2016

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that an Adams County man has been convicted of manslaughter in the February 2014 shooting death of another man.

mauricedavisMaurice Davis, 24, of Natchez entered an open plea to manslaughter today before Judge Forrest Johnson in Adams County Circuit Court. An open plea means that a defendant refuses to accept the state’s recommendation and instead throws himself or herself upon the mercy of the court. Davis was sentenced to 15 years in prison with 10 years suspended, leaving five years to serve. Davis was also sentenced to 10 years of post-release supervision and ordered to pay $1,000 to the Mississippi Crime Victim Compensation Fund. 

Davis and two co-defendants were accused of the attempted robbery and killing of Terrance Thornburg of Natchez in the early morning hours of Feb. 24, 2014. Davis’s co-defendants are awaiting trial.

“We are working to bring Mr. Thornburg’s killers to justice, and with today’s conviction we are a step closer to that goal,” Attorney General Hood said. “I appreciate the Natchez Police Department for its efforts on this case and I thank Judge Johnson for sentencing this defendant to time in jail.”

The Attorney General’s Office took over the case following a recusal by the Adams County District Attorney’s Office. The case was investigated by the Natchez Police Department and Investigator Jerry Spell of the Attorney General’s Office. Special Assistant Attorneys General Marvin Sanders and Kimberly Purdie prosecuted the case.

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AG Hood Encourages Consumers to Shop Safely, Smartly

November 21, 2016

In a Thanksgiving weekend tradition that’s become as common as turkey and the Egg Bowl, millions of Americans will try to cash in on holiday shopping bargains this week as they descend on retail stores for “Black Friday” sales.

According to the National Retail Federation, more than 137 million people will hit retail stores or go online to shop this weekend. “Black Friday” is the most popular shopping day of the year. The Monday after Thanksgiving, known as “Cyber Monday,” has become the big day for consumers to go online for deals.

As the holiday shopping season begins, Attorney General Jim Hood encourages consumers to shop smartly and safely. Attorney General Hood urged consumers to take the time to protect themselves against fraud and scams and safeguard their personal information.

“Shopping for Christmas gifts is stressful enough without having to worry about criminals lurking to steal or commit fraud this time of year,” Attorney General Hood said. “Fortunately, there are some simple steps consumers can take to avoid con artists. From being aware of your surroundings while out shopping, or being aware of online safety measures when on the internet, consumers can successfully manage the holiday shopping rush.”

Attorney General Hood’s Consumer Protection Division has produced a detailed brochure, “Consumer Safety Tips for Holiday Shopping,” that is available to download on the Attorney General’s website, www.AGJimHood.com

Here is some of the advice the Consumer Protection Division offers for safe, secure holiday shopping:

·         While out shopping, avoid walking alone and always be aware of your surroundings. Many malls and shopping centers provide security escorts upon request. Park in well-lit areas and avoid leaving valuables or gift purchases in view inside the car.

·         Remember that “Black Friday” deals aren’t always the best deals. Sales times and quantities may be limited, so spend some time shopping around before committing to a particular purchase. Keep in mind that some retailers may offer “sale adjustments” if you buy an item at regular price and it goes on sale later. Some stores may offer a credit or refund of the discounted amount.

·         Ask retailers about return and exchange policies, which differ depending upon the retailer or the item purchased. Some retailers may not accept a return in an open box, or, if they do, they may charge a “restocking fee.” Clearance items may not be eligible for return or exchange in some circumstances.

·         Carry only the cash and credit cards that are necessary, and immediately report lost or stolen cards to the card issuer and local law enforcement.

·         Watch out for ATMs and credit-card readers that appear to have been tampered with, as that could be a sign of “skimming,” where criminals install small devices in the machines that steal sensitive financial information.

·          When shopping online, know the reputation of the seller and be aware of the site’s refund policies and shipping/handling fees.

·         Before submitting a payment over the internet, make sure the website is encrypted and secure (The site’s URL should start with “https” and/or contain a padlock symbol.)

·         Always use computers or mobile devices with up-to-date software, anti-virus and anti-malware programs. Never open links or attachments from unknown sources, since this is a way for criminals to steal identities.

·         Maintain receipts and monitor credit card transactions. Make sure credit card and bank statements accurately match sales receipts. Promptly report any problems to the card issuer.

The “Consumer Safety Tips for Holiday Shopping” brochure, which contains more advice, can be downloaded on the Attorney General’s website, www.AGJimHood.com, on Facebook (www.facebook.com/mississippiattorneygeneral) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/MississippiAGO).

To report fraud or scams this holiday season, contact Attorney General Hood’s Consumer Protection Division at (800) 281-4418.

 

 

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Union County Woman Going to Prison for False Pretense

November 17, 2016

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Blue Springs resident is going to prison for attempting to profit off the murder of a Panola County teenager by using the murder as a way to fraudulently collect donations.

Janet Lee Posey, 41, pleaded guilty Monday to one count of false pretense before Union County Circuit Court Judge John A. Gregory.  Posey was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with three of those years suspended, leaving seven years to serve. Judge Gregory ordered her to serve three years of post-release supervision and pay $1,433 in court costs.

Posey was arrested in December 2014 by investigators with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division and the Union County Sheriff’s Office following an investigation that revealed Posey had started a fraudulent internet scam after the murder of 19-year-old Jessica Chambers. The investigation revealed that Posey attempted to collect donations for the family without their consent or knowledge.

“This defendant posed as a family member of the victim and created a Facebook page in an attempt to convince people to donate money to her, where she intended to take it for her own personal use,” Attorney General Hood said. “Her acts are reprehensible. Fortunately, we caught her before she raised any money. We thank Judge Gregory for his strong sentence, and I would like to thank Sheriff Jimmy Edwards and his deputies for their dedication and assistance on this case.”

The case was investigated by Miller Faulk and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Mark Ward of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.

 


TUPELO MAN GOING TO PRISON FOR CHILD EXPLOITATION

November 16, 2016

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Lee County man is going to prison for possessing child pornography.

Austin Long, 64, appeared Monday before Lee County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Gardner and entered an open plea to a bill of information of one count of child exploitation. An open plea means the defendant refuses to accept the state’s recommendation and instead throws himself or herself at the mercy of the court. As a result, Judge Gardner sentenced Long to 20 years in prison with 17 of those years suspended, leaving three years to serve, followed by five years of post-release supervision. Long was ordered to pay $1,000 to the Mississippi Children’s Trust Fund, $100 to the Mississippi Crime Victim Compensation Fund and a $1,000 fine. Additionally, Long must register as a sex offender.

Long was arrested last December at his home by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit with assistance of the Tupelo Police Department. It was discovered through an investigation that Long was using the internet to communicate via chat rooms and emails with other child predators to receive sexually explicit images and videos of children under 12.

“This case originally started as a cyber tip that was sent to our office following the result of an investigation in a different case worked by an affiliate of the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children task force,” Attorney General Jim Hood said. “We appreciate the dedication and hard work of the Tupelo Police Department and we thank Judge Gardner for giving this defendant time to serve behind bars to think about his perverted acts he committed against our children.”

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