Hinds County District Attorney Indicted on Four Charges

May 30, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Rankin County Grand Jury has indicted Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith on two felony and two misdemeanor charges.

Smith, 46, of Jackson, is charged with two misdemeanor counts of simple domestic violence and two felony counts of (1) aggravated stalking and (1) robbery. These were filed as two separate indictments.

Christie Edwards, who is described in the indictment as having a former relationship with Smith, reported the alleged assault to the FBI, who then turned the case over to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution. The indictment, which was filed May 25, states Edwards claimed Smith put her in fear of harm by pointing a firearm at her and making threatening comments. She also claimed he threw her against a counter. These crimes were reported to our office after news coverage began on the Hinds County cases. The victim has previously reported the crimes to the FBI. 

Smith turned himself in to the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department Tuesday and was released on his own recognizance with a signature bond. Smith waived arraignment, and a trial date has been set for October 23.

The case is being investigated by Lee McDivitt and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Robert Anderson.

As with all cases, 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.


Two Harrison County Men Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

May 30, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrests of two Harrison County men charged for possessing child pornography.

Richard Joseph McIntyre, 40, of D’Iberville

Richard Joseph McIntyre, 40, of D’Iberville, was arrested at his home Wednesday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance from the D’Iberville Police Department, an ICAC Task Force affiliate agency. McIntyre was charged with one count of child exploitation. Investigators executed a search warrant following an investigation of McIntyre’s online activity. As a result of the search warrant, he was arrested.

McIntyre was booked into the Harrison County Detention Center with a $50,000 bond set by Harrison County Justice Court Judge Albert Fountain. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Quincy Joshua LaBauve, 31, of Biloxi

Quincy Joshua LaBauve, 31, of Biloxi, was arrested at his home Thursday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance from the Biloxi Police Department, who is also an ICAC Task Force affiliate agency. LaBauve was charged with two counts of child exploitation. Investigators executed a search warrant following an investigation of LaBauve’s online activity. As a result of the search warrant, he was arrested.

LaBauve was booked into the Harrison County Detention Center with a $100,000 bond set by Harrison County Justice Court Judge Albert Fountain. If convicted of both counts, he faces up to 80 years in prison and $1,000,000 in fines.

As with all cases, 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.

These cases, which are unrelated, were investigated by Jay Houston and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn, both of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.


AG Hood, Auto Repair Task Force Release Consumer Guide for Insurance and Auto Body Repair

May 25, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the release of the Consumer’s Guide to Insurance and Auto Body Repair.

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office convened the Mississippi Auto Repair Task Force in August 2016, in an attempt to give consumers some guidance on navigating the relationship between the collision repair and insurance industry.  The Consumer’s Guide to Insurance and Auto Body Repair addresses what consumers should expect from their insurance companies and auto body repair shops, how to choose a shop, and the different types of repair costs and warranties.

“Our Consumer Protection Division receives complaints from consumers about disputes between insurance companies and collision repair shops,” said General Hood. “Due to the lighter space age materials used in newer model cars, the repair procedures, machines and training for collision repair technicians are very technical and expensive.  In order to place a vehicle back in its pre-accident condition, some body shops have to buy expensive machines or tools and have their technicians trained and certified on the repair procedures for certain makes of vehicles.  Some collision repair shops which do not obtain these certifications and tools, may offer to do a repair cheaper.  The goal of the insurance companies is to keep repair prices as low as possible.  Therein lies the conflict for consumers to navigate.  Our goal is to help consumers be aware of issues and understand their rights in the repair process.”

The Mississippi Auto Repair Task Force includes the Mississippi Insurance Department, auto body repair shops, insurers, auto manufacturers, aftermarket parts manufacturers, and other industry representatives. That group met to find common ground on best practices for the future and discuss concerns and desires to better meet the needs of consumers.

Click here for a copy of the Consumer’s Guide to Insurance and Auto Body Repair.

 


Attorney General Announces Consumer Guide to Insurance and Auto Body Repair

May 24, 2017

MEDIA ADVISORY
Date Issued: May 24, 2017

Attorney General Announces Consumer Guide to Insurance and Auto Body Repair

Attorney General Jim Hood will hold a press conference Thursday, May 25, to announce the newly released Consumer’s Guide to Insurance and Auto Body Repair.

The guide addresses what consumers should expect from their insurance companies and auto body repair shops, how to choose a shop, and the different types of repair costs and warranties. After receiving questions and concerns regarding insurance companies and auto body repair, the Attorney General’s office created and met extensively with the Mississippi Auto Repair Task Force, which includes the Mississippi Insurance Department, body shops, insurers, auto manufacturers, after market parts manufacturers, and other industry representatives. That group met to find common ground on best practices for the future and discuss concerns and desires to better meet the needs of consumers.

After considering the positions of all participating industries, General Hood created this guide.

WHAT: Press conference to release Consumer’s Guide to Insurance and Auto Body Repair

WHERE: Office of the Attorney General, 13th Floor Press Room, Walter Sillers Building, Downtown Jackson

WHEN: Thursday, May 25, at 11:00 a.m.

Media Contact:
Margaret Ann Morgan
Communications Director
(601) 497-1480
mmorg@ago.state.ms.us


Madison County Man Sentenced to 40 Years for Child Exploitation

May 24, 2017

Timothy Flanagan, 40, of Madison County

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced that a Madison County man is going to prison for child exploitation.

Timothy Flanagan, 40, pled guilty Monday in Madison County Circuit Court to one count of child exploitation. Judge John Emfinger sentenced Flanagan to 40 years in prison with 20 to serve. Flanagan was ordered to pay $1,000 to the Mississippi Children’s Trust Fund and another $1,000 to the Mississippi Crime Victim Compensation Fund.

Flanagan was arrested in Flora in August 2016 by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cybercrime Unit, with the assistance of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, following an investigation that revealed he was downloading child pornography from the internet.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time this man has admitted guilt in handling child pornography,” said General Hood. “In 2014, Flanagan registered as a sex offender after pleading guilty to three counts of possession of child porn in Wyoming. This is exactly why the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is so important-to be sure individuals like Flanagan are not able to exploit our children.”

This case was investigated by Jay Houston and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.


Mississippi Joins $18.5M Settlement with Target Corporation over 2013 Data Breach

May 23, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood today announced that Mississippi has joined with 46 other states and the District of Columbia in an $18.5 million settlement with the Target Corporation to resolve the states’ investigation into the retail company’s 2013 data breach. The settlement represents the largest multistate data breach settlement achieved to date.

The states’ investigation, led by Connecticut and Illinois, found that, on or about November 12, 2013, cyber attackers accessed Target’s gateway server through credentials stolen from a third-party vendor. The credentials were then used to exploit weaknesses in Target’s system, which allowed the attackers to access a customer service database, install malware on the system and to capture data, including consumer data comprised of full names, telephone numbers, email addresses and mailing addresses, payment card numbers, expiration dates and CVV1 codes, and encrypted debit PINs.

The breach affected more than 41 million customer payment card accounts and contact information for more than 60 million customers.

“We are living in a cyber world, therefore we must take additional steps to ensure consumers are protected,” said General Hood. “Our consumer protection division, along with others across the country, is happy to see this case settled and to see Target implementing ways to protect their customers from future hacks.”

In addition to the monetary payment to the states, the settlement agreement requires Target to develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive information security program and to employ an executive or officer who is responsible for executing the plan. The company is required to hire an independent, qualified third-party to conduct a comprehensive security assessment.

The settlement further requires Target to maintain and support software on its network; to maintain appropriate encryption policies, particularly as pertains to cardholder and personal information data; to segment its cardholder data environment from the rest of its computer network; and to undertake steps to control access to its network, including implementing password rotation policies and two-factor authentication for certain accounts.

Mississippi will receive $227,714.21 from the settlement.

In addition to Mississippi, and led by the Connecticut and Illinois, other states participating in this settlement include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia and the District of Columbia.


Free Online Program Informs Senior Citizens About Robocalls, Scams, and Latest Technology Issues

May 19, 2017

A free online program is available next week to help senior citizens and their families learn how to prevent, identify, and respond to scams targeting elderly people, as well as how to deal with the latest barriers of technology.

Attorney General Jim Hood announced the webinar today, which coincides with Older Americans Month and is offered by the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission. The webinar will provide older Americans and their family and friends with information and tips about the value of broadband connectivity (i.e., staying engaged, telehealth), dealing with robocalls, reporting suspicious calls, and benefitting from FCC rules requiring disability access to communications, including rules that require hearing aid compatibility, telecommunications relay services, emergency access, and closed captioning.

“Whether you are an older adult, care for one, or simply know someone who is a senior, you will find this webinar helpful,” said General Hood.

The webinar will be presented by the FCC on Monday, May 22, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. CT at www.fcc.gov/live with open captions. During the event, participants may submit comments and questions by emailing livequestions@fcc.gov or via Twitter using the hashtag #FCCLive. No registration is required.

More information about the free webinar can be found on the FCC’s event page at www.fcc.gov/news-events/events/2017/05/what-older-americans-and-their-caregivers-should-know-about-robocalls. After the event, an archived version of the webinar will be listed on that page as well.

Additional information may also be obtained by contacting the Consumer Protection Division of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office at 601-359-4230 or toll free at 1-800-281-4418.


ATTORNEY GENERAL JIM HOOD SETTLES SUIT IN EPPS SCANDAL

May 18, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that the State of Mississippi has settled its claims with Branan Medical Corporation for $2,000,000.00. This settlement effectively recovers not only the State’s cost for purchasing hundreds of thousands of drug testing cups during then-Commissioner Christopher Epps tenure at MDOC, but also any of Branan’s profits.

“I am pleased with Alere Inc. for cooperating and quickly resolving this matter with the State’s taxpayers,” said General Hood. “Alere bought Branan Medical after the Epps scandal occurred, and they were one of the first companies to approach our office seeking settlement in this case.  Due to their cooperation, we have quickly resolved this matter.”

This settlement ends one of 11 civil actions the Attorney General filed on February 8, 2017, accusing 10 individuals and 12 out-of-state corporations of using alleged “consultants” as conduits to pay bribes and kickbacks to then-Commissioner Epps for the awarding and retention of MDOC contracts – all while defrauding the State through a pattern of misrepresentation, fraud, concealment, money laundering and other wrongful conduct, arising from the MDOC Prison Bribery Scandal.

“We are pursuing these cases not only to disgorge these companies and individuals of their ill-gotten profits, but also the value of the contracts.  Before this is over, these companies will lose big on these contracts and wish they never heard the word bribe or consultant in the state of Mississippi,” said General Hood. “The State received the benefit of all the drug testing cups it purchased in this case.  The State also recovered the taxpayers’ money that was illegally used by former-Commissioner Epps, and we proved that this contract cost the company money.  Other corporations who are playing these illegal games with Mississippi taxpayers should take note.”

Click here for a copy of the Branan Settlement Agreement and Release Executed.