Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of 50-year-old Dr. Harold Peltan on 17 counts of Medicaid fraud.
Peltan, who is an ophthalmologist in Cleveland, was arrested Tuesday by the Bolivar County Sheriff’s Office on a 17-count indictment by a Bolivar County grand jury. The indictment states between July 2011 and July 2014, Dr. Peltan billed for care not provided to his patients, created false bills during post-operative periods, and billed for care that was not medically necessary.
For each count, Peltan faces up to five years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines, for a maximum of 85 years and $850,000. He is awaiting bond and court dates. 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 and will be prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the sentencing of a 25-year-old Columbia man on one count of child exploitation.
Jovon Eugene Kendrick pled guilty and was sentenced Friday in Lawrence County Circuit Court by Judge Prentiss Harrell. Kendrick was sentenced to 40 years with 10 to serve and 30 years post-release supervision. He must register as a sex offender and pay a $5,000 fine in addition to $1,000 to the Children’s Trust Fund.
“Our cybercrime division continues fighting the acts of these perverts every day,” said General Hood. “This young man had videos and pictures of children as young as four years old engaged in sexual activity. That is absolutely disgusting, and I am pleased that Judge Harrell has put him where he can’t continue to abuse our precious children.”
Kendrick was arrested in April following an investigation of his online activity. He was arrested by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit with assistance from the Columbia Police Department.
This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.
Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of 42-year-old Kimredell Dotson on four counts of committing false pretense in connection with his collection of insurance premiums on two separate life insurance policies and failing to forward the premiums to the insurance company.
Dotson, a funeral home owner in McCool, turned himself in to the Choctaw County Sheriff’s Office Thursday after a warrant was issued following an indictment by a Choctaw County grand jury last month on the four charges. He was indicted for defrauding his customers in an amount greater than $500, in four separate instances between 2010 and 2013.
Dotson made false representations to his customers that he was forwarding their insurance premium payments to Security National Life Insurance Company for their life insurance policies. However, the payments were never turned in to the company. His fraudulent activity was discovered as part of an investigation by the Secretary of State’s Office and the Mississippi Insurance Department and was then referred to the Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau at the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.
Investigators Michael Stevens and Jerry Spell with the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau participated in the arrest along with the Choctaw County Sheriff’s Office.
If convicted, Dotson faces up to 40 years in prison. A charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case was investigated by Kenneth West with the AG’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau, with assistance from the Mississippi Department of Insurance and Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office. It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Robert “Bob” Anderson with the AG’s Public Integrity Division.
Treasurer Fitch, Attorney General Hood, the Mississippi Council on Economic Education (MCEE), and the Mississippi State University Extension Service Announce New Financial Education Initiative
Today, at the Mississippi Council for Economic Education (MCEE) Forum on American Enterprise, Treasurer Lynn Fitch and Attorney General Jim Hood announced a new two-year partnership including the Mississippi Council on Economic Education (MCEE) and Mississippi State University Extension Service to advance financial education in Mississippi schools and communities, Making Sense of Your Dollars and ₵ents.
“MCEE has been a tremendous partner in my financial education initiative, TEAM, from the very beginning,” said Treasurer Lynn Fitch, who launched the public-private partnership Treasurer’s Education About Money (TEAM) into high schools and middle schools across the State three years ago. “Together, we have trained more than 1,200 teachers in just 3 years, who can not only teach financial education curriculum, but also incorporate these lessons into classes of all types and for all ages. This exciting new initiative with the Attorney General will help expand on these efforts to bring this important life skill into even more classrooms across Mississippi.”
“Our office’s Consumer Protection Division interacts with people daily who have been taken advantage of or scammed out of their hard-earned money, and we hope this new financial literacy program will prevent those types of problems on the front end,” said General Hood. “In fact, this program is funded by settlements from banks and credit rating agencies who have caused extreme financial burden to Mississippians through their deceptive practices. We are proud to be teaming up with Treasurer Fitch, MCEE, and Mississippi State Extension Services to be a part of the solution to our state’s financial literacy problem.”
“MCEE is so thankful for the opportunity to work with both Treasurer Fitch and General Hood on the mission of creating Mississippi citizens that are financially literate,” said Selena Swartzfager, president of MCEE. “Every teacher in Mississippi wanting professional development related to how they can teach their students financial literacy will have access to this training at no cost over the next two years. In addition to providing the educator training, we will provide the curriculum for use in the classroom and continuing education units for the teachers. Educators simply need to connect with us by going to our website (www.mscee.org) and sign up for the weekly newsletter where we announce opportunities for teachers and students.”
“There is a great need across our state for bringing financial coaching into our communities,” said Dr. Becky Smith, Director of MSU Extension Center for Economic Education and Financial Literacy. “Our portion of this project will look at financial literacy from the lens of community and economic development, where we will train community leaders to take into account the individual’s financial needs by implementing this education into services they already deliver.”
Making Sense of Your Dollars and ₵ents is funded through a legal settlement with three credit rating agencies and two financial institutions for violations of consumer protection laws, for a total of $2.5 million over two years. The program will focus on (1) expanding teacher training at all K-12 levels, (2) providing incentives to teachers and schools to incorporate financial education into their students’ studies, (3) supporting teachers with innovative in-classroom and out-of-classroom learning experiences for their students, and (4) building a financial wellness network and implementing financial coaching through community leaders to meet individual needs.
Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of 31-year-old Donald D. Adams on felony charges of insurance fraud, wire fraud, and attempted false pretense.
Adams, of Lexington, attempted to defraud Progressive Insurance Company by submitting a false medical bill to the company in an effort to be paid for medical treatment he did not receive. He communicated these false statements by phone or other communications across county and jurisdictional lines; however, he did not profit from his scheme due to Progressive Insurance discovering the false bill before an unlawful payment could be made to Adams.
A Holmes County grand jury indicted Adams in June. He was arrested Tuesday by deputies at the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office on a three-count indictment and booked into the Holmes/Humphreys Regional Correctional Facility.
If convicted on all counts, Adams faces up to 18 years in prison and $25,000 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. His arraignment was scheduled for October 13 at 9 a.m.
This case was investigated by Michael Stevens and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Steven Waldrup, both with the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau.
Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the sentencing of 39-year-old Donald Turner, of Clinton.
Also known as Darnell “Slick” Turner, he was sentenced to 45 years out of the maximum of 55 in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Turner was sentenced on charges of aggravated assault with a firearm (10 years), aggravated domestic violence (20 years), and shooting into an occupied vehicle (five years). He also received five years for using a gun during the aggravated assault and another five years for using a gun when he shot into the victim’s car. Additionally, a protective order by Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Weill, Sr. requires Turner to stay away from the victim, who is his child’s mother whom he beat up, hung over a bridge while strangling her, then returned to assault her more.
“I’m glad to see a person who has no respect for his own child’s mother put away not only from her, but others who could be in his path of violence,” said General Hood. “Domestic violence is a very serious offense, and to have Judge Weill recognize that through this sentencing should let other offenders know this violence will absolutely not be tolerated, and our office will prosecute it to the largest extent.”
Turner was found guilty by a Hinds County trial jury earlier this month on one count of each charge. He was arrested in April 2016 after being indicted for beating the then-22-year-old mother of one of his children, shooting into the car she was in, and dragging her to a bridge where he strangled her before suspending her over the railing. After Turner left the scene in the Washington Addition neighborhood in Jackson, he returned and assaulted a person who was trying to assist the initial victim. He then drove the mother of his child home while continuing to beat her.
The Attorney General’s Office received this case after Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith recused himself due to an admission in open court that he previously represented Turner and that Turner visited him in his home.
This case was investigated by the Jackson Police Department with assistance from Attorney General Investigators Larry Ware, Christopher Watkins and Jerry Spell. The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander and Special Assistant Attorney General Patrick Beasley.
Today, Attorney General Jim Hood joined 37 attorneys general in urging health insurance companies to find ways to make non-opioid pain management more accessible for people who are currently treating their pain with addictive opioids.
“Right now, many insurance companies cover opioids, which, under those plans, are not as expensive as less addictive pain medicines,” said General Hood. “People shouldn’t be forced to buy opioids that will get them addicted just because it’s cheaper. The way the system is set up is literally killing people.”
General Hood, along with a bipartisan coalition of states and territories, sent a letter this week to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), a national association representing the nation’s insurance companies, encouraging the use of non-opioid alternatives for
treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain. The letter urges insurers to review their coverage and payment policies as the starting point in a coalition-initiated dialogue focused on incentive structures across the insurance industry. The group contends incentives that promote use of non-opioid techniques will increase the practicality of medical providers considering such treatments, including physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care and non-opioid medications. The letter also encourages doctors to prescribe non-opioid medicines that can be purchased over the counter, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.
“Health insurers are in a position where they can help relieve this epidemic in our country,” said General Hood. “It’s going to take compassion over profits—from the insurers to the drug manufacturers—to change the way we deal with patients’ pain.”
A recent New York Times article reports that a study conducted by NYT and ProPublica analyzing Medicare prescription drug plans covering 35.7 million people found nearly all of those plans covered common opioids; whereas, only one-third of the people covered had access to a less-risky painkilling patch. Another example: where non-addictive lidocaine patches were covered, they cost more than opioids and required prior approval from the insurance companies
According to the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, the number of opioid prescriptions in the state makes Mississippi the fifth highest prescriber per capita in the nation, with 1.07 prescriptions per person. The letter notes the number of opioid prescriptions has quadrupled since 1999, despite Americans reporting a steady amount of pain. A copy of the letter is available at agjimhood.com.
General Hood led the nation in filing the first lawsuit on behalf of a state against multiple drug manufacturing companies for falsely marketing opioids as rarely addictive. The suit was filed in December 2015 in Hinds County Chancery Court against 17 companies. General Hood charges that the companies deceived Mississippi Medicaid, doctors, and consumers in order to boost profits at the expense of innocent victims
Additional attorneys general signing the letter are Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.
Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced his office’s participation in a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general seeking documents and information from distributors of prescription opioids as part of a multistate investigation into the nationwide opioid epidemic. This information will enable the attorneys general to evaluate whether distributors engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioids.
Nationwide, opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, including 351 in Mississippi, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled nationally since 1999.
General Hood led the nation in filing the first lawsuit on behalf of a state against multiple drug manufacturing companies for falsely marketing opioids as rarely addictive. The suit was filed in December 2015 in Hinds County Chancery Court against 17 companies. General Hood charges that the companies deceived Mississippi Medicaid, doctors, and consumers in order to boost profits at the expense of innocent victims.
“In 2015, we filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of these drugs for their role in this national crisis,” said General Hood. “Now, we need to determine if the distributors also contributed to this growing epidemic.”
The attorneys general sent information demand letters to opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson requesting documents about their opioid distribution business. This investigative tool is being used to determine what role the opioid distributors may have played in prolonging this epidemic and the appropriate course of action to help resolve this crisis.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Hood partnered with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and other government agencies and non-profit organizations to host a three-day summit to educate Mississippians and train officials on the opioid epidemic the state is facing.
General Hood wants to assure the residents of Mississippi that he is continuing to actively work towards addressing this growing crisis.
“We will not stop fighting this epidemic until it has been resolved,” said General Hood. “We continue to hold drug companies accountable, and this newly launched investigation is another step in that fight to protect Mississippians.”