Rankin County Resident Arrested for Child Exploitation

October 21, 2014
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A Rankin County resident has been arrested and charged with child exploitation for allegedly possessing child pornography, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Willard Geven Knight, 23, of Pearl, was arrested today by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit and the Pearl Police Department.  The arrest was made through the Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Knight was booked into the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years behind bars.  As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Attorney General Hood Urges Congressional Support of Legislation to Prevent Online Sex Trafficking of Youth

October 20, 2014
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Attorney General Jim Hood  today urged members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to support legislation that would help prevent children from being trafficked on the Internet.

Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating about $150 billion each year. Shockingly, there are numerous cases nationally of children being used in prostitution as young as 12. The FBI estimates that nearly 300,000 American youths are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

“We often think of this as being a crime that occurs elsewhere, but Mississippi is  just as vulnerable as every other state,” said Attorney General Hood.  “I want to know we are doing all we can to keep our children safe.”

In a letter co-sponsored by the Indiana and Washington attorneys general, and joined by 53 other attorneys general, Attorney General Hood asked members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for their support of the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act (SAVE) Act (S. 2536), which would provide more oversight of websites that facilitate “adult services,” such as Backpage.com.

Attorney General Hood said federal courts have recognized that the Internet has become a favored means for advertising the availability of children for sex. Internet ads can be purchased in multiple locations with the click of a button.

This allows human traffickers to maximize their profit and evade detection by moving victims quickly to lucrative venues where there is significant demand for commercial sex.

“Organized crime groups and street gangs use the Internet to sell their victims as well, which is why passage of the SAVE Act is particularly critical,” said Attorney General Hood.

The use of the “adult services sections” on websites such as Backpage.com has created virtual brothels where children are bought and sold using euphemistic labels such as “escorts.” The SAVE Act would require these websites that are facilitating trafficking through their very business model to take steps to verify the identity of individuals posting advertisements and the age of those who appear in these advertisements.

In just one week this June, law enforcement arrested 281 alleged sex traffickers and took 168 children out of prostitution in a nationwide FBI crackdown where many child victims were offered for sale on “escort” and other “adult services” websites.

Preventing kids from being trafficked on the Internet has been a long-term interest of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). NAAG has taken several actions regarding Backpage.com and similar websites, including requesting that these exploitive websites shut down their “adult services” sections which fuel the online trafficking of youth.


Laurel Man Going to Prison for Child Exploitation

October 17, 2014
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A Laurel man is going to prison after admitting to possessing child pornography, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Charles Michael English, 59, of Laurel, appeared before Judge Billy Joe Landrum in Jones County Circuit Court this morning and pleaded guilty to two counts of child exploitation.

English was sentenced to 20 years behind bars with six to serve and five years of post-release supervision. He was also ordered to pay $1,000 to reimburse the use of a public defender and $1,000 to the Mississippi Crime Victims Fund. English must also register as a sex offender upon his release.

The Attorney General’s investigation revealed English was downloading child porn from the internet onto his laptop and thumb drive.

“We appreciate Judge Landrum giving this defendant time to serve for this disgusting crime,” said Attorney General Hood.

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


Pelahatchie Resident Arrested for Workers’ Comp Fraud

October 16, 2014
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A Pelahatchie resident has been arrested following indictment in Rankin County for workers’ comp fraud, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Jacqueline Hill, aka Jacqueline Doty, 32, of Pelahatchie, turned herself in at the Rankin County Detention Center today after having been indicted by the Rankin County Grand Jury on one count of workers’ compensation fraud.  Hill is accused in the indictment of making false statements to Union Standard Insurance Company for the purpose of obtaining workers comp benefits by misrepresenting to USIC “that she was not receiving a secondary income while receiving workers’ compensation benefits.”

If convicted, Hill faces a maximum of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.  As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being handled by the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Unit.  It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Larry Baker and investigated by Jerry Spell.


Pascagoula Man Going to Prison for Child Exploitation

October 13, 2014
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A Jackson County man is going to prison after admitting to possessing and producing child pornography, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Robert Hinger Jr., 48, of Pascagoula, appeared before Judge Kathy Jackson in Jackson County Circuit Court this morning and pleaded guilty to four counts possession and one count production of child pornography.

Hinger was sentenced to 30 years behind bars with 12 to serve. He was also ordered to pay a $7500 fine and $500 to the Mississippi Crime Victims Fund. He must also register as a sex offender upon his release.

The Attorney General’s investigation uncovered that the defendant had emailed pornographic images to others and had taken an inappropriate picture of a 15 year old girl in the community.

“We appreciate Judge Jackson’s sentence which will get another child predator off our streets,” said Attorney General Hood.

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


Lucedale Resident Charged with Child Exploitation

October 10, 2014
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A Lucedale resident has been arrested and charged with one count of child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Daniel Bryan Weaver, 33, was arrested Thursday night at his residence by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.  Weaver’s driver license shows him to be a resident of Semmes, Al.  He is accused of possessing child pornography.

If convicted, Weaver faces up to 40 years behind bars.  As with all the cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Clinton Resident Going to Prison for Child Exploitation

October 10, 2014
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A Clinton resident will go to prison for possessing child porn, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Rickey Bryant Roby, 35, of Clinton appeared before Judge Winston L. Kidd in Hinds County today and entered a guilty plea to one count of child exploitation.  Judge Kidd sentenced Roby to ten years on the state’s recommendation and suspended five years, giving Roby five years to serve.  He must also register as a sex offender upon his release.

The Attorney General’s investigation showed that Roby had downloaded child pornography from the internet onto his home computer.

“Our work in this area continues until we close the prison doors on all the child predators in this state,” said Attorney General Hood.

The case was investigated by the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


Biloxi Resident Arrested for Insurance Fraud

October 2, 2014
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A Biloxi resident is behind bars facing charges of insurance and wire fraud, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Nicole Laster, 38, was arrested recently in Jackson County by the Gulf Coast Regional Task Force for the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Unit, following indictment on one count of insurance fraud and one count of wire fraud.  The indictment alleges that Laster did“willfully, unlawfully and feloniously with the intent to appropriate a benefit to herself, to which she was not entitled, execute a scheme to defraud Sentry Insurance Company, in that she filed false injury claims and medical bills from Biloxi Regional Medical Center for Injuries allegedly received in an automobile collision” and she did “willfully, unlawfully and feloniously having devised a scheme to defraud and/or for obtaining money from Sentry Insurance Company, to which she was not entitled, and for the purposes of executing said scheme did transmit or cause to be transmitted, across county or state jurisdictional lines, a writing, being fraudulent injury claim forms and/or medical records for injuries allegedly received in an automobile collision.”

Laster was booked into the Jackson County jail and is currently out on bond awaiting her trial.  If convicted, she faces up to three years behind bars on the insurance fraud charge and up to five years on the wire fraud charge.  As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by Christopher Watkins and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Larry Baker of the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Unit.