Columbia Woman Turns Herself In on Exploitation of Vulnerable Adult Charge

January 9, 2018

Devina Williamson, 34, of Columbia, was charged with one count of exploitation of a vulnerable adult for making more than $250 in debit card purchases from the account of the vulnerable victim.

A 34-year-old woman from Columbia surrendered to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office Friday evening after being accused of taking money from a vulnerable person for her own use, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Devina Williamson was charged with one count of exploitation of a vulnerable adult for making more than $250 in debit card purchases from the account of the vulnerable victim. She was booked into the Marion/Walthall Correctional Facility on a $10,000 bond.

If convicted, Williamson faces up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 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 Shannon Cook with the AG’s Vulnerable Adult Unit and will be prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander of the AG’s Public Integrity Division.


Life in Prison for Jackson Man Convicted of Triple Murder

January 4, 2018

Javondus Beasley, 25, of Jackson, received a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole plus 80 years on Thursday after being found guilty on on one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder in the 2013 shooting deaths of his neighbor, 29-year-old Eldra Gibson and Gibson’s friends 25-year-old Sherrod Brown and 22-year-old Ashley Taylor.

Javondus Beasley of Jackson received a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole plus 80 years on Thursday after being found guilty on three counts of murder, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Beasley, 25, was convicted last month by a Hinds County jury on one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder in the 2013 shooting deaths of his neighbor, 29-year-old Eldra Gibson and Gibson’s friends 25-year-old Sherrod Brown and 22-year-old Ashley Taylor. Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Weill Sr. sentenced Beasley to life without parole on count one, 40 years on count two, and 40 years on count three. The sentence will run consecutively.

In October of 2013, Beasley entered Gibson’s home on Moon Street in Jackson with the intention of robbing the owner of the house then killed the owner and the other two victims that were in the house at that time.

“This man is headed to the exact place he deserves to be for committing these heinous murders,” said General Hood. “I’m thankful for the justice that Judge Weill and the Hinds County jury have delivered in this case, and I hope it brings some peace to the families who have suffered too much.”

The case was investigated by the Jackson Police Department with assistance by Perry Tate of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Jim Giddy and Marvin Sanders following the recusal of the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office.

 


Mississippians Eligible for Payment from Settlement with PHH Mortgage Corporation

January 3, 2018

Nearly 300 Mississippians will receive a note in the mail in the coming months letting them know they are eligible for payments starting at $285 after a $45 million settlement was reached with New Jersey-based mortgage lender and servicer PHH Mortgage Corporation for the company’s improper servicing of mortgage loans.

PHH, the nation’s ninth largest non-bank residential mortgage servicer, improperly serviced mortgage loans from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2012. Examples of these improper services included but were not limited to: failing to maintain accurate account statements, failing to timely and accurately apply payments made by borrowers, failing to properly process borrowers’ applications for loan modifications, and failing to maintain adequate documentation to determine whether PHH had standing to foreclose.

Borrowers who were subjected to PHH foreclosures during the eligible period will qualify for a minimum $840 payment, and borrowers who faced foreclosures that PHH initiated during the eligible period, but did not lose their home, will receive a minimum $285 payment. Approximately 270 Mississippians are eligible for a payment. A settlement administrator will contact eligible payment recipients via U.S. mail at a later date.

“Our settlement holds PHH accountable for harms homeowners suffered from improper loan servicing and shows our continued dedication to this area,” said General Hood. “The agreement requires new servicing standards to help ensure that PHH doesn’t repeat conduct that led to improper mortgage servicing and provides financial relief to aggrieved homeowners.”

The settlement agreement requires PHH to adhere to comprehensive mortgage servicing standards, conduct audits, and provide audit results to a committee of states. The settlement does not release PHH from liability for conduct that occurred beginning in 2013. The settlement was reached by Attorney General Jim Hood, 48 other state attorneys general, the District of Columbia, and more than 45 state mortgage regulators.


Attorneys General to U.S. Transportation Secretary: Reverse Withdrawal of Rule Requiring Airlines to Disclose Baggage Fees Upfront

December 27, 2017
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Attorney General Jim Hood joined 16 attorneys general in a letter last week asking U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to reverse the department’s decision to withdraw a rule requiring airlines and third-party booking companies to disclose baggage fees and other charges upfront.

Attorney General Jim Hood joined 16 attorneys general asking U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to reverse the department’s decision to withdraw a rule requiring airlines and third-party booking companies to disclose baggage fees and other charges upfront.

The Transportation Department announced earlier this month it was withdrawing the Transparency of Airline Ancillary Service Fees rule, which was proposed during January 2017. The rule would have made it far easier for consumers to understand the full cost of their plane tickets, but the department said in a notice posted online that the rule would have been “of limited public benefit.”

When a customer books a ticket, the baseline price is typically all that is shown. Carry-on baggage fees, checked baggage fees, seat fees, and more are not disclosed until booking is nearly complete—or even after tickets have been purchased. The rule would have required airlines to post all the fees up front at the beginning of the booking process, rather than surprising consumers at the end. U.S. airlines are expected to earn $57 billion from fees this year and $7 billion from baggage fees alone.

“Traveling, especially during the holidays, is stressful enough without hidden fees,” said General Hood. “Consumers should be able to make informed choices about the cost of their travel, and that’s why we’re asking the Transportation Department to demand transparency from the airline industry.”

The letter details the many different fees that airlines are increasingly charging consumers for basic services, which were previously considered standard services covered by the basic ticket price. In addition to baggage fees, some airlines charge for printing boarding passes at the airport, allowing passengers to select seats, and even providing assistance to children traveling by themselves.

According to a 2016 study, travelers paid an average of $100 in fees per round-trip on Spirit airlines, $97 on Frontier, and $86.92 on United. “We regularly hear reports from consumers in our states who are confused and frustrated by these fees, which significantly alter the total cost of travel,” the attorneys general wrote.

The letter also states that while they are committed to working collaboratively with the Transportation Department to protect consumers and ensure the country’s aviation industry is able to grow, “this decision by your Department works against those goals, making it harder for Americans to be informed consumers when they travel.”

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In addition to Mississippi, the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia signed last week’s letter.


19-year-old Clinton Man Arrested on Child Pornography Charge

December 20, 2017

William Wood, 19, of Clinton, was arrested today after being charged with one count of child exploitation for possessing child pornography.

William Wood was arrested at his home following an investigation of suspicious online activity. He was booked into the Clinton city jail awaiting his initial appearance.

If convicted, Wood faces up to 40 years in prison and $500,000 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 Jay Houston with 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.


Former Hattiesburg Clinical Assistant Sentenced for Felony Abuse of a Patient

December 19, 2017

James Haydel, 24, of Hattiesburg, was sentenced for one count of felony abuse of a vulnerable person following his arrest on October 11, 2016, for abusing a patient while working as a clinical assistant.

A 24-year-old man will spend two years behind bars for abusing a patient while working as a clinical assistant in Hattiesburg, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

James Haydel, 24, entered an open plea to one count of felony abuse of a vulnerable person on November 8. Forrest County Circuit Court Judge Bob Helfrich sentenced Haydel Monday to 12 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with two years to serve and 10 years suspended. Haydel must also serve five years on probation. Additionally, Haydel was ordered to pay a $2,500 fine, $200 in restitution to the Mississippi Crime Victim Compensation Fund, $200 in restitution to the Forrest County Public Defender’s Fund, and all court costs.

Haydel was arrested on October 11, 2016, by the attorney general’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit for engaging in sexual penetration with a patient in a Hattiesburg healthcare facility where Haydel was employed as a clinical assistant.

“Good caregivers are a lifeline for our vulnerable population, whether elderly, adolescent, or disabled,” said General Hood. “This case should not deflect from the many caregivers across our state who are doing right by their patients. It should serve as a reminder that the calling is one with standards of decency and self-control. We are working hard every day to protect all our residents, especially our most vulnerable.”

This case was investigated by Trey Rogers and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Tina Herron.


Jackson Man Convicted on Three Counts of Murder

December 15, 2017

Javondus Beasley, 25, of Jackson, was convicted Thursday by a Hinds County Jury after a three-day trial on one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder.

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a 25-year-old man from Jackson was convicted Thursday on three counts of murder.

Javondus Beasley was convicted by a Hinds County Jury after a three-day trial on one count of capital murder and two counts of second-degree murder.

Beasley was convicted of intentionally shooting 29-year-old Eldra Gibson, 25-year-old Sherrod Brown, and 22-year-old Ashley Taylor, during the late evening hours of October 30. Beasley entered the home on Moon Street in Jackson with the intention of robbing the owner of the house then killed the owner and the other two victims that were in the house at that time.

Judge Jeff Weill, Sr., scheduled a sentencing hearing for January 4 in Hinds County Circuit Court.

Beasley faces a potential sentence of life without parole for the capital murder conviction and up to 40 years in prison for each second-degree murder convictions.

“I appreciate Judge Weill and the Hinds County jury for bringing this murderer to justice,” General Hood said. “We hope this brings the victims’ families a bit of peace this Christmas.”

The case was investigated by the Jackson Police Department with assistance by Perry Tate of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division. The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Jim Giddy and Marvin Sanders following the recusal of the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office.

 


Former Hattiesburg Candidate Indicted on Voter Fraud

December 6, 2017

 

Cory Ferraez, 28, turned himself in on a two-count indictment for voter fraud.

A Hattiesburg man who ran for an open state representative seat faces more than five years behind bars after being indicted on two counts of voter fraud, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Cory Ferraez, 28, turned himself in on a capias Monday following an August indictment by a Lowndes County grand jury. On count one, Ferraez was charged with swearing to a false application for an absentee ballot, and count two charged him with voting outside of his legal district. He faces up to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and a $5,000 fine for count one and up to six months in jail and a fine of $200 on count two. 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.

Ferraez was booked into the Lowndes County jail. He pleaded not guilty to both charges, and his arraignment was waived. A trial date was set for February 26, 2018.

This case was investigated by Roger Wade with the attorney general’s Public Integrity Division and will be prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander.