AG’s Child Desertion Unit Arrests 3 Fathers

February 8, 2019

Three South Mississippi men were arrested recently for not paying child support, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

48-year-old William Rich Hennington of Brookhaven

Investigators with General Hood’s Child Desertion Unit arrested 41-year-old Victor Maurice, Jr. of Harrison County, 34-year-old Gregory Williams of Biloxi, and 48-year-old William Rich Hennington of Brookhaven. Williams and Hennington were apprehended for outstanding bench warrants, while Maurice was served his long-standing indictment. Each was charged with felony non-support of a child.

 

 

41-year-old Victor Maurice, Jr. of Harrison County

The indictments state the following amounts owed and periods in which the fathers did not pay:

  • Hennington, $13,263.37,
    September 2003 – April 2018
  • Maurice, $13,685.00,
    January 2014 – April 2018
  • Williams, $12,394.00,
    January 2011 – March 2018

 

34-year-old Gregory Williams of Biloxi

If convicted, each man faces up to five years in prison and full restitution. 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.

These cases were investigated by the AG’s Public Integrity Division with assistance from Gulfport and Brookhaven Police Departments. It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Dana Sims.

The Office of the Attorney General prosecutes cases regarding unpaid child support when all other avenues are exhausted or the case has been referred by the Department of Human Services. If you have a complaint regarding unpaid child support, please contact the DHS hotline at 877-882-4916.


Hood Recovers $26.6 Million, Settles Final Epps Bribery Case

January 24, 2019

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that his office recovered $26,612,188.22 in Mississippi taxpayer funds after settling 11 civil lawsuits filed in February 2017, against multiple government contractors doing business with the Mississippi Department of Corrections during the Epps bribery scandal. The lawsuits accused these contractors of using so-called “consultants” as conduits to influence then-Commissioner Christopher Epps, through bribes and kickbacks, to award and retain MDOC contracts.

“These settlements effectively disgorged these corporations of their ill-gotten profits and then some,” General Hood said. “I have a duty to protect the integrity of the public contracting process, as well as vindicating the rights of the state when it is the victim of public corruption and other wrongful conduct. We filed these lawsuits because I was determined to hold these corporations, both out-of-state and in-state, accountable for their wrongful conduct.”

 

“Today, and throughout this litigation, we have sent a significant warning to corporations pursuing public contracts with the state that this office will not tolerate corporations taking advantage of Mississippi taxpayers. Corporations contracting with the state, whether through direct employees or outside consultants, must uphold their corporate ethical responsibilities to ensure our laws are followed. Corporations have a duty and a responsibility not only to properly hire, train, and supervise their employees, but also any outside consultants they elect to hire.”

General Hood reminded companies and their employees that if they are doing business in Mississippi and a public official approaches them in a way that makes them uncomfortable about a business-related issue, that action needs to be reported immediately to authorities. 

The settlement amounts paid by these government contractors are as follows:

(1)     Management & Training Corporation                               $5.18 million

For-profit operator of correctional facilities

(2)     Cornell Companies, Inc. (GEO Group)                            $4.55 million

For-profit operator of correctional facilities

(3)     Wexford Health Sources, Inc.                                         $4.00 million

Correctional health care provider

(4)     Keefe Commissary Network, LLC                                   $3.10 million

Commissary management services

(5)     C. N. W. Construction Company                                    $3.10 million

Construction

(6)     Global Tel*Link Corporation                                            $2.50 million

Inmate telephone communications

(7)     Branan Medical Corporation                                            $2.00 million

“Drugs-of-abuse” testing products

(8)     Sentinel Offender Services, LLC                                     $1.30 million

Offender tracking and monitoring provider

(9)     CGL Facility Management, LLC                                       $750,000.00

Correctional maintenance services

(10)    AdminPros, LLC                                                             $32,188.22

Medicaid eligibility services

(11)    Guy E. “Butch” Evans                                                     $100,000.00

Insurance

(12)    Health Assurance, LLC                                                   Bankruptcy

Correctional health care provider


Jackson Man Arrested for Stealing Money from Elderly Father

February 7, 2019

Robert Earl Trunnell, Jr. was arrested Wednesday after being indicted on felony charges for taking nearly $11,000 from his father’s accounts, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Trunnell, 41, was entrusted with the care of his father. The indictment states he stole the money in multiple ways over a nine month period, including checks, cash, withdrawals, and card transactions. The total amount Trunnell stole was $10,854.66.

He is charged with one count of exploitation of a vulnerable adult and two counts of embezzlement. If convicted, he faces up to 25 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 Anita Ray and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brad Oberhousen, both with the AG’s Public Integrity Division.


Former Heidelberg Officer, Acquaintance Arrested for Insurance Fraud Scheme

February 6, 2019

Dezmond Cooley

A former officer with the Heidelberg Police Department and another man are awaiting a bond hearing after being indicted and arrested on charges stemming from an altered accident report and fraudulent insurance claim, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Elbert Benton

Officer Dezmond Cooley, 30, allegedly created and altered a false Uniform Crash Report to assist the driver, 31 year-old Elbert Benton, in receiving insurance benefits after the crash. The indictment states that the accident happened on January 19, 2018, when Benton was not insured. Cooley altered the report to falsely reflect that the crash happened on February 11, 2018, after Benton obtained insurance coverage on the vehicle involved.

The two men were arrested Tuesday and booked into the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department. Benton is charged with one count of insurance fraud and one count of conspiracy and face up to 8 years in prison. Cooley is charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of alteration of record and faces up to 15 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 Justin Harris and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brad Oberhousen, both with the AG’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau.


Woman Indicted on 12 Counts of Insurance, Wire Fraud

February 4, 2019

Sylvia Lynn Dickinson, 34, of Meridian, was indicted on 12 counts for charges alleging she profited from selling multiple types of insurance without a license.

A Meridian woman faces 57 years in prison after being indicted on charges alleging she profited from selling multiple types of insurance without a license, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Sylvia Lynn Dickinson, 34, was indicted last month by a Lauderdale County grand jury on four counts of insurance fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, and one count of false pretense. The indictment states she sold car insurance to two women for three different cars through a company with whom she was not licensed. Dickinson is also accused of selling house insurance through the same company, knowing that she was not able to write this type of insurance because she was not licensed. The indictment states she received approximately $937.55 from one of the victims between March and April of last year.

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 trial is set for April 9 at 9 a.m. in Lauderdale County Circuit Court. Dickinson waived her arraignment Thursday.

This case was investigated Jerry Spell and Justin Harris and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Steven Waldrup, each with the AG’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau. The Mississippi Insurance Department assisted in the investigation.


AG’s Office Receives Award for Supporting Employee Military Service

January 31, 2019

L-R: SMSgt William T. Holbrooks, Operations Superintendent, 172d Security Forces Squadron; AG Investigator Roger Wade; AG Chief Investigator Tony Green; Attorney General Jim Hood; Lisa Ponder, ESGR Public Affairs Director; and Major David S. Gray, Commander, 172d Security Forces Squadron

The Mississippi Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve (ESGR), an agency within the Department of Defense, recently awarded Attorney General Jim Hood and others at the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office with its Service Member Patriot Award for promoting a work culture that values the military service of employees.

General Hood and Tony Green, Director of Investigations for the Public Integrity Division (PID), were nominated for this award by PID Investigator Roger Wade. Wade serves as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Mississippi Air National Guard 172d Security Forces Squadron.

“Having this support isn’t just about me, it’s also for my family,” Wade said. “It makes being gone from time to time less stressful when you know both you and your family have support from your employer.”

The Service Member Patriot Award is the first in ESGR’s series of awards. An employee serving in the National Guard or Reserve, or the spouse of a Guard or Reserve member, may nominate individual supervisors and bosses for support provided directly to the nominating service member and his or her family. The Patriot Award reflects efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed. Patriot Awards are awarded to individual supervisors, not to an entire staff or organization as a whole.

“Hiring service members and supporting them as an employer is a no-brainer,” General Hood said. “Their background and work ethic cannot be matched, and I thank Investigator Wade for both his service to our country and to the people of Mississippi. I couldn’t believe this award was needed because it seems natural to support our service members and their families in this way. Unfortunately, I learned that’s not always the case. I hope other employers recognize the sacrifice these men and women make for our freedoms and support them when they are called away from their day jobs in order to defend our great nation.”

“The Public Integrity Division of the AG’s office is like a family, and when one of our own is called to serve, we don’t let their cases back home drop. Everyone pitches in to be sure our colleagues do not feel they are leaving work undone in the office while they are protecting our country elsewhere,” Green said. “We are proud that Roger is part of this team.”

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office employs six people currently serving in the military, with three of those on active duty. ESGR seeks to promote a culture in which all American employers support and value the military service of their employees. ESGR volunteers are available nationwide to: advocate on behalf of a member of the military, their family and their employer; recognize and help service members thank a supportive employer; inform service members and their employer about USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployments Rights Act); and mediate issues that arise between service members and their employer.

“It is an honor to serve in this capacity, as an ESGR volunteer. I take great pride in honoring our service members and their employers and being able to present such awards,” ESGR Public Affairs Director Lisa Ponder said. “It may seem like such a small gesture, but it is so much more than just an award. Employers who fully and whole-heartedly support our military personnel are true patriotic people, and that is exactly how it should be for each and every employer.”


AG’s Cybercrime Team Arrests One, Sentences Another on Child Pornography Charges

January 30, 2019

 

Vernon Williams, 61, was arrested in Brandon after an investigation of his suspicious online activity. He is charged with child exploitation for possession of child pornography .

A Brandon man was arrested Tuesday and a Tylertown man was sentenced Wednesday, both on a single charge of child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Vernon Williams, 61, was arrested in Brandon after an investigation of his suspicious online activity. He is charged with child exploitation for possession of child pornography and booked into the Rankin County jail. If convicted, Williams 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. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department assisted the AG’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in the arrest and investigation.

Mickey D. Luter, 61, will spend 10 years in prison for downloading multiple sexually explicit photos of pre-pubescent girls.

Mickey D. Luter, 61, will spend 10 years in prison after entering an open plea Wednesday to a child exploitation charge. He was arrested in 2017 after investigators discovered that he downloaded multiple sexually explicit photos of pre-pubescent girls. Walthall County Circuit Judge Michael Taylor sentenced Luter to 20 years in prison with 10 years suspended and five years post-release supervision. He will have to pay $50,000 in fines and must register as a sex offender.

“No child predator is safe in our state,” General Hood said. “I thank Judge Taylor for making sure yet another pedophile is put far away from causing harm to any child.”

Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn prosecuted the Luter case and will also prosecute the Williams case.

A total of 165 people have been convicted of child exploitation crimes to date by General Hood’s ICAC Task Force.


Ocean Springs Man Arrested for Child Exploitation

January 25, 2019

A 20-year-old man was arrested Wednesday on one count of child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Mikel Brown was arrested in Ocean Springs after an investigation of his suspicious online activity. He was booked into the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office on a $100,000 bond.

If convicted, Brown 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 ICAC affiliates Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations. It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.

A total of 164 people have been convicted of child exploitation crimes to date by General Hood’s ICAC Task Force.