Settlement Reached in Nationwide Mutual Data Breach

August 9, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that his office, along with the attorneys general of 32 states, has reached a settlement with the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and its subsidiary, Allied Property & Casualty Insurance Company (collectively “Nationwide”), concerning an October 2012 data breach.

The data breach, which was alleged to have been caused by the failure to apply a critical security patch, resulted in the loss of personal information belonging to 1.27 million consumers, including their social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit scoring information, and other personal data.  The lost personal information was collected by Nationwide in order to provide insurance quotes to consumers applying for insurance.

“Protecting consumers and their personal information is an important part of the work in our office,” said General Hood. “This settlement enforces stricter online security at Nationwide and also gives $100,469.42 to our office for attorneys’ fees and future consumer protection efforts.”

The settlement requires Nationwide to take a number of steps to both generally update its security practices and to ensure the timely application of patches and other updates to its security software.  Nationwide must also hire a technology officer responsible for monitoring and managing software and application security updates, including supervising employees responsible for evaluating and coordinating the maintenance, management, and application of all security patches and software and application security updates. Additionally, Nationwide agreed to take steps during the next three years to strengthen its security practices, including:

  • Updating its procedures and policies relating to the maintenance and storage consumers’ personal data.
  • Conducting regular inventories of the patches and updates applied to its systems used to maintain consumers’ personal information (“PII”).
  • Maintaining and utilizing system tools to monitor the health and security of their systems used to maintain PII.
  • Performing internal assessments of its patch management practices and hiring an outside, independent provider to perform an annual audit of its practices regarding the collection and maintenance of PII.

Many of the consumers whose data was lost as a result of the data breach were consumers who never became Nationwide’s insureds, but the company retained their data in order to more easily provide the consumers re-quotes at a later date.  The settlement requires Nationwide to be more transparent about its data collection practices by requiring it to disclose to consumers that it retains their PII even if they do not become its customers.

In addition to the injunctive terms, Nationwide agreed to make a payment of $5.5 million to the attorneys general.  The settlement was joined by the Attorneys General of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

 


Poplarville Man Pleads Guilty to Child Exploitation

August 1, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced that 23-year-old Darryl Warner III, of Poplarville, pled guilty to one count of child exploitation.

Warner, originally from Picayune, appeared Monday before Pearl River County Circuit Court Judge Claiborne McDonald. Judge McDonald scheduled a sentencing hearing for Friday, August 11, at 9:00 a.m. Warner faces up to 40 years behind bars.

Warner was arrested April 5, 2016, after being found in possession of child sexual abuse images of children under the age of eight. He was arrested by Investigator Wayne Lynch of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance from the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Office and the Picayune Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.


Neshoba County Man Sentenced to 40 Years After Downloading Child Pornography

August 1, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Neshoba County man is going to prison for one count of child exploitation.

Brian Lee Davis, 19, pled guilty Monday in Newton County Circuit Court to one count of child exploitation. Judge Christopher Collins sentenced Davis to 40 years in prison with 10 to serve and 30 suspended. He was ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and $500 for investigative costs to the Attorney General’s Office, in addition to $1,000 to the Mississippi Children’s Trust Fund and another $1,000 to the Mississippi Crime Victim Compensation Fund. Davis must also register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.

Davis was arrested in February by Investigator Jay Houston with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit following an investigation of suspicious online activity.

“Our investigation uncovered that this defendant was in possession of numerous child sexual exploitation videos and images downloaded from the internet,” said General Hood. “Our office will continue to put offenders behind bars who participate in this predatory online activity. We appreciate Judge Collins for doing that in this case.

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Brandon Ogburn and Mark McClinton of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit


Man Arrested on Kidnapping, Sex with a Minor Charges in Natchez After Fleeing Across State Lines

July 31, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of 33-year-old Michael Easton, who had three arrest warrants out of Columbia, South Carolina, for first degree assault and battery, criminal sexual conduct with a minor, and kidnapping.

Easton, of Natchez, fled to his hometown from South Carolina after the police department there posted warrants for his arrest. With the assistance of the Adams County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Marshals Service, the Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce located and arrested Easton this past Thursday in Natchez. He was booked into the Adams County Jail without bond, pending an extradition hearing. A charge is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

 “Thank God we have brave lawmen and women who go through doors every day—not knowing what is behind them—to get dangerous and desperate people off of the streets and away from you and me,” said General Hood. “Thank you to the Adams County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Marshals for their assistance in locating and arresting this man.”  

Investigator Jay Houston with the Attorney General’s ICAC Taskforce, which served as the lead agency, was the arresting investigator on this case.


Christopher Butler Sentenced to 30 Years Without Parole for Possession of Marijuana

July 28, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the sentencing of Christopher Butler, who was found guilty for possessing approximately four pounds of marijuana.

Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Weill, Sr. sentenced 40-year-old Butler Friday to 30 years in prison without parole and $500,000 in fines. By law, Butler was sentenced to the maximum 24 years for being a habitual offender. Judge Weill added six years to that because Butler is a repeat drug offender. Butler was found guilty by a Hinds County trial jury Wednesday on one count of possession of marijuana.

“Christopher Butler is a career criminal who has met his match through this sentence,” said General Hood. “I appreciate the service of the jury and thank Judge Weill for his work.”

The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics executed a search warrant on Butler’s home in April 2011 and found approximately four pounds of marijuana hidden in furniture. During the search, MBN agents also found a home security camera system that recorded activity within the home. The Hinds County District Attorney’s office recused itself from the case in 2016 due to a conflict of interest and the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division was appointed special prosecutor.

The jury was shown the video footage from Butler’s DVR which showed Butler handling the drugs, selling drugs, counting large stacks of cash and storing the cash. The cash was seized and totaled at $77,938.

Butler was tried as an habitual offender.  He has previously been convicted of possession of marijuana twice and he has also been convicted of motor vehicle theft. Additional pending charges include possession of six pounds of marijuana from 2012 and possessing a cell phone while incarcerated in 2016. A charge is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander and Special Assistant Attorney General Patrick Beasley.


Christopher Butler Convicted for Possession of Marijuana

July 27, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that Christopher Butler has been convicted for possessing approximately four pounds of marijuana.

Butler, 40, of Hinds County, was found guilty by a Hinds County trial jury Wednesday on one count of possession of marijuana. Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Weill, Sr. scheduled a sentencing hearing for Friday, July 28, at 10:30 a.m.

The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics executed a search warrant on Butler’s home in April 2011 and found approximately four pounds of marijuana hidden in furniture. During the search, MBN agents also found a home security camera system that recorded activity within the home. The Hinds County District Attorney’s office recused itself from the case in 2016 due to a conflict of interest and the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division was appointed special prosecutor.

The jury was shown the video footage from Butler’s DVR which showed Butler handling the drugs, selling drugs, counting large stacks of cash and storing the cash.  The cash was seized and totaled at $77,938.

Butler was tried as an habitual offender.  He has previously been convicted of possession of marijuana twice and he has also been convicted of motor vehicle theft. Additional pending charges include possession of six pounds of marijuana from 2012 and possessing a cell phone while incarcerated in 2016. Butler faces between 24 and 48 years in prison and must serve his sentence day-for-day without the possibility of parole for the conviction handed down by the jury yesterday.

“This career criminal has come to the end of the line,” said General Hood. “I appreciate the Court and the Hinds County Jury for holding Butler accountable.”

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander and Special Assistant Attorney General Patrick Beasley.


Meridian Man Charged For Stealing Money From Vulnerable Person

July 25, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest and multi-count indictment of a man charged with two counts of felony exploitation of a vulnerable person.

Roger Lewis, Jr., 64, of Meridian, was arrested Monday in Lauderdale County by investigators with the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Lewis is accused of stealing two banking cards from the victim and withdrawing more than $250 from each card for his personal use between November 2016 and January 2017. He was booked into the Lauderdale County Jail without bond.

If convicted of both counts, he faces up to 20 years in prison. A charge is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case is being investigated by Trey Rogers and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Kathy Parker.

 


Meridian Man Arrested for Exploiting Vulnerable Adult

July 21, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the indictment and arrest of 28-year-old Christopher Josh Dean on one charge of exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

Dean was arrested Wednesday in Meridian and booked into the Lauderdale County Detention Facility. He is accused of taking $2,150 from the account of the victim. Dean was arrested by Investigators Merritt Barry and Shannon Cook with the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division. Bond was not set awaiting his initial appearance.

If convicted, Dean faces up to 10 years in prison and $5,000 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 Merritt Berry and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders.