Madison Man Arrested for Stealing Money from Home Repair Customers

March 28, 2019

Robert Bates, 62, of Madison, was arrested at his home Thursday and charged with one count of home repair fraud, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Bates allegedly stole over $40,000 from a victim who contracted with him for repairs to the victim’s home. Bates allegedly never started the work on the home and instead used the money for his own use. Hinds County Justice Court Judge Frank Sutton set Bates’ bond at $50,000.

If convicted, Bates 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.

Additional charges are expected. If you believe you are a victim of Bates’, call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 601-359-4230. The AG’s office has guidelines for home repair contracting, including a model contract, available on its website to help consumers prevent becoming a victim to this type of fraud.

This case was investigated by Lee McDivitt and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Patrick Beasley, both of the AG’s Consumer Protection Division. The Madison Police Department provided assistance in the arrest.


Meridian Man Pleads Guilty to Possessing Child Pornography

March 28, 2019

Christian Shows, of Meridian, will spend eight years in prison after pleading guilty to possessing hundreds of sexually explicit videos and images of young children.

Christian Shows, of Meridian, will spend eight years in prison after pleading guilty to possessing hundreds of sexually explicit videos and images of young children, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

The 25-year-old was sentenced on one count of child exploitation Thursday by Lauderdale County Circuit Judge Bo Bailey. Judge Bailey sentenced him to 40 years in prison with eight years to serve, and he must pay $1,000 to the Crime Victims Fund, $1,000 to the Children’s Trust Fund, and register as a sex offender.

“Like many of our cases, local law enforcement assisted our investigators in making this arrest; in this case, it was the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Department, which is an affiliate agency of our Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force,” General Hood said. “Just today we welcomed many of our nearly 100 affiliate agencies to a training at our office, and it was encouraging to see how multilevel agencies can work together to identify online predators and get them away from our precious children. I thank Judge Bailey for putting yet another child predator behind bars.”

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Tina Herron of the AG’s Cybercrime Unit.

A total of 169 people have been convicted of child exploitation crimes to date by General Hood’s ICAC Task Force.


Two Men Sentenced for Failing to Pay Over $43,000 Combined in Child Support

March 26, 2019

Two men were sentenced in separate cases for failing to pay a combined total of more than $43,000 for their monetary responsibility to their children, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Antoine Spillman, 40, of Louisville, KY, pleaded guilty Monday to two felony counts of non-support of a child. Madison County Circuit Court Judge Dewey Arthur sentenced Spillman to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years suspended and five years of supervised probation for both counts. Spillman must repay more than $30,000 for 7 years’ worth of missed child support payments.

48-year-old William Rich Hennington of Brookhaven

William “Riche” Hennington, 49, of Brookhaven, pleaded guilty Monday to two felony counts of non-support of a child. Lincoln County Circuit Court Senior Judge Frank Vollor sentenced Hennington to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years suspended and five years of supervised probation for both counts. Hall must repay $13,927.65 for 10 years’ worth of missed child support payments.

“Our office will always demand full restitution from deadbeat parents who chose not to provide the lawful financial support for their children,” said General Hood. “We thank both Judge Arthur and Judge Vollor for holding both of these men accountable for what they owe their children.”

These cases were prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Dana Sims of the AG’s Child Desertion Unit and Brad Oberhousen of the AG’s Public Integrity Division.

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.


Coast Man Pleads to Possession of Child Pornography

March 26, 2019

A Gulfport man will spend five years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Harrison County Circuit Court Judge Larry Bourgeois sentenced 33-year-old Scotty Peel Monday on one count of child exploitation. Peel was sentenced to 15 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years to serve and five years of post-release supervision. He must also pay a $2,000 fine, $1,000 to the Children’s Trust Fund, and register as a sex offender.

“Our cyber team has once again taken a dangerous predator off the internet, a tool that was being used to download images of young girls,” General Hood said. “Criminals think the internet is a safe place to hide, but our investigators find them every time. Thanks to Judge Bourgeois for putting him behind bars where he can’t take advantage of more children.”

This case was investigated by the AG’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


AG Hood Joins Bipartisan Coalition to Protect State Lotteries

March 25, 2019

“This opinion could place the future of online gaming and lottery in Mississippi in the hands of the federal government,” General Hood said.

Attorney General Jim Hood joined a group of 25 attorneys general in expressing concern over a sweeping legal opinion that may negatively impact state-run and multi-state lotteries, including Mega Millions and Powerball.

The letter, sent last week to U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, argues the federal government’s new legal opinion- “Reconsidering Whether the Wire Act Applies to Non-Sports Gambling”- could reach beyond the realms of sports gambling and into areas traditionally controlled by the states, potentially jeopardizing in-state lotteries. The bipartisan letter contends the new opinion could call into question interstate transmissions related to all bets or wagers, even where fully authorized under relevant state law.

The new interpretation reversed the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2011 legal opinion, which prohibited only interstate transmission of information regarding sporting events or contests.

“This change could potentially have devastating consequences for the lottery Mississippi has finally established,” General Hood said. “Many national and international companies operate in our state, and this reversal creates confusion for state regulators to determine if the companies comply with the Wire Act. Our lottery will fund much needed infrastructure and education, and this opinion could place the future of online gaming and lottery in Mississippi in the hands of the federal government.”

The coalition’s letter asks for a meeting with AG Barr and Deputy AG Rosenstein and for an extension of Rosenstein’s initial 90-day compliance window, until or beyond August 13. An extension would provide time for states to meet with the Justice Department and for state vendors to address the issue.

Mississippi joined the West Virginia-led letter with attorneys general in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Click here to read a copy of the letter.


Coast Care Facility Operator Sentenced for Exploitation, Abuse of a Vulnerable Person

March 20, 2019

Michael Hillie, 31, of Gulfport

A former care facility operator will spend time in prison after pleading guilty to one count of exploitation of a vulnerable person and one count of abuse of a vulnerable person, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Michael Hillie, 31, of Gulfport, was operating an unlicensed care facility for vulnerable persons known as “Precious Care” when he improperly took the social security benefits of several victims for whom he was the representative payee. He also directed a staff member not to seek medical treatment for a separate victim’s second and third degree burns.

Harrison County Circuit Court Judge Lawrence P. Bourgeois Jr. sentenced Hillie Tuesday to serve five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for the exploitation charge. Some of this time has already been served, as Hill’s bond was revoked. For the abuse charge, Judge Bourgeois sentenced Hillie to three years suspended and three years post release supervision to run consecutively with the exploitation sentence. Hillie was also ordered to pay $4,000 in restitution and all court costs.

“We are grateful that the victims in this terrible case are now in a safe and caring environment, “General Hood said. “I have said it many times, but it cannot be stressed enough: when families put their trust in caretakers, the duty to care for their loved one will be taken seriously, and our office will prosecute you when you do wrong. I thank Judge Bourgeois for sending this man to prison and sending a warning to other caretakers in our state.”

The case was investigated by Garland Ward and Brandon Carr and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Mark Ward and Parker Wiseman, all of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.


Man Sentenced for Failing to Pay Over $28,000 in Child Support

March 19, 2019

Gregory Ray Hall, Jr., 36, of Clinton

Gregory Ray Hall, Jr., of Clinton, must repay more than $28,000 for nine years’ worth of missed child support payments, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Hall, 36, pleaded guilty Monday to two felony counts of non-support of a child.  Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Michael M. Taylor sentenced Hall to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years suspended on post-release supervision.

“Thank you to Judge Taylor for making this man pay what he owes his children,” said General Hood. “We will continue our work to ensure parents properly support their children.”

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Dana Sims of the AG’s Child Desertion Unit.

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.


Man Arrested for Workers Compensation Fraud Charge

March 12, 2019

An Arkansas resident, who worked as a former paramedic in Mississippi, turned himself in Tuesday after being indicted on one count of workers compensation fraud, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Denny Polk, 49, surrendered to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department after a Montgomery County grand jury indicted him for submitting false and misleading income statements and employment information in order to receive more money than he was owed from a workers compensation claim.

If convicted, Polk faces up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. 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 Public Integrity Division.