Jackson Man Going to Prison for Aggravated Assault

February 13, 2015
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A Jackson man has been sentenced to prison time for aggravated assault, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Hinds County Circuit Court Judge William Gowan on Thursday sentenced Christopher Wilson, 31, of Jackson, on the charge of aggravated assault.  The defendant was sentenced to 10 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years to serve, five years suspended, and three years post release supervision. Wilson was found guilty of the crime by a jury on January 14.  His sentencing was delayed until today.

The investigation showed that Wilson and four other co-defendants who were pre-trial detainees stabbed another pre-trial detainee 27 times while inside the Hinds County Detention Center.  The victim survived the attack and was able to identify his attackers.

The case was investigated by Perry Tate and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin L. Sanders of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.


Yalobusha County Resident Arrested for Insurance Fraud

February 10, 2015
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A Yalobusha County resident has been arrested for insurance fraud, announced Attorney General  Jim Hood today.

Jennifer Gail Franklin, 30, of Coffeeville, was arrested today by the Yalobusha Sheriff’s Office following indictment by a Yalobusha County Grand Jury on one count each of insurance fraud and wire fraud.

Franklin is accused of intending to gain for herself a benefit to which she was not due by allegedly scheming  to defraud ACCC Insurance Company by falsely claiming that damages to her car had occurred on October 3, 2014 when in fact they had occurred on May 21,2014 and had already been compensated.

If convicted, she faces up to three years behind bars for the insurance fraud charge and up to five years for the wire fraud charge.

The case is being investigated by Jerry Spell and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Larry Baker of the Attorney General’s Insurance Fraud Unit.

As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Attorney General Hood Urges Nine Oil Companies to Eliminate Synthetic Drugs from Retail Locations

February 10, 2015
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Attorney General Jim Hood today asked nine oil companies to collaborate with their franchisees to help eliminate synthetic drugs from retail locations operating under their brand names, including gas station and convenience stores.

The use of synthetic drugs has increased dramatically over the past four years. In 2010, more than 11,000 people, many of whom were younger than 17, went to the emergency room after using synthetic marijuana. Since then, thousands more have been harmed by synthetic drugs. In 2014, one health department reported a 220% increase in emergency room visits due to the ingestion of synthetic marijuana. Over this same period, enforcement agencies confirmed more than 130 instances of branded gas stations having sold synthetic drugs.

In a letter co-sponsored by the Illinois and Florida attorneys general, and joined by 42 other attorneys general, Attorney General Hood expressed concern over the problem of gas stations and convenience stores operating under brand names of reputable oil companies and selling illegal and extremely dangerous synthetic drugs.

“Many of these well-known retail locations give the appearance of safety and legitimacy to dangerous synthetic products,” said Attorney General Hood. “Enforcing stronger policies against the sale of synthetic drugs in retail locations can protect the brand reputations of these oil companies while also protecting our youth.”

The attorneys general request the following actions be considered by these oil companies to address this growing problem:

Prohibit franchisees from selling any synthetic drugs;
Ensure this prohibition is understood by store franchisees and their employees by communicating directly with each of them;
Establish a point of contact in corporate offices for franchisees, should they have any questions about synthetic drugs;
Revoke franchisee/franchisor relationship with any gas station or convenience store that sells any kind of synthetic drugs; and
Report to local law enforcement authorities if any franchisee is selling synthetic drugs.
The following oil companies addressed in this letter are: British Petroleum, Chevron Corporation, Citgo Petroleum Corporation, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Marathon Petroleum Corporation, Phillips 66, Shell Oil Company, Sunoco, and Valero Energy Corporation.

The other state and territorial attorneys general offices that signed today’s letter are: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Click here for a copy of the letter.


AG Announces Upcoming 9th Annual Community Shred Days

February 9, 2015
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Mississippi consumers will soon have an opportunity to take an important step in protecting themselves from becoming victims of identity theft.  The 9th annual Community Shred Days, which will be March 6-7, 2015, are being held in conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week.  This event provides a chance for consumers to shred their personal documents at no charge, a service provided courtesy of the Shred-It company.

The Community Shred Days will take place in six locations statewide.  Consumers may bring up to five large garbage bags or boxes of documents to be shredded.  Additionally, Magnolia Data Solutions will destroy computers and electronics (glass prohibited) at the Jackson and Vicksburg locations only.  This event is limited to consumer documents, computers, and electronics. Monitors and televisions will not be accepted. There is no limit on the equipment. No businesses please.

 

This year’s event will be held at the following locations:

 

Friday, March 6, 2015 (7:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.)

Jackson – Home Depot, I-55 North

Tupelo – Walmart, 3929 N. Gloster St.

 

Saturday, March 7, 2015 ( 7:30 am. – 2:00 p.m.)

D’Iberville – Walmart, 3615 Sangani Blvd.

Hattiesburg – BancorpSouth, 100 Hardy St.

Meridian – 2400 Hwy 19 North

Vicksburg – 50 Halls Ferry Park Rd.

“Although identity theft is not a violent crime, it is widespread and serious,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “Taking steps to shield your personal information that would make it easy for a criminal to steal your identity such as social security numbers, account numbers, and pin numbers is critical.  We applaud Shred-It and our fellow sponsors for providing this opportunity to the public to be proactive in protecting their personal information.” 

Additional sponsors include:  BancorpSouth, Better Business Bureau, Brightview Federal Credit Union, Center for Justice, Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, The Home Depot, The Leadership Council on Aging, Members Exchange, Mississippi Credit Union Association, Mississippi Department of Human Services Division of Aging and Adult Services, Mississippi State University Extension Service, Money Management International, Secretary of State’s Office, Sunbelt Federal Credit Union, Trustmark Bank, Wal-Mart, and other Mississippi Consumer Partnership members.

For more information about the event, please visit www.agjimhood.com.

 


Tupelo Resident Going to Prison for Embezzlement

February 6, 2015
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A Tupelo resident has been sentenced for embezzling from a relative, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Louis Aldridge, age 67, of Tupelo was sentenced today by Judge James L. Roberts in Lee County Circuit Court after pleading guilty to three counts of embezzlement.  Judge Roberts sentenced Aldridge, on count one, to ten years in prison with four years suspended, six to serve, followed by five years of post-release supervision.  The Court suspended a $25,000 fine and ordered that Aldridge pay $552,000 in restitution and also $100 to the Mississippi Crime Victim Compensation Program.  On counts two and three, Aldridge was sentenced to ten years suspended with those counts to run consecutively.

“We appreciate the very just sentence handed down by the learned Judge Roberts,” said Attorney General Hood.  “Full restitution with time to serve will insure this defendant pays due penance for this crime.”

The Attorney General’s investigation showed that Aldridge took money from the personal banking account of a relative without consent.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander and Special Assistant Attorney General Jim Giddy and investigated by Ronnie Odom and Danny Welch of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

February 6, 2015
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As we enter into the month of February, Attorney General Jim Hood would like to remind Mississippians of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month and the importance of establishing healthy relationships at a young age and early intervention to protect our teens.

Dating violence occurs when one person in a relationship, in an attempt to control the other person, uses abusive acts to make that person do what he or she wants.  This may involve physical violence, but relationships can be abusive even if physical violence does not occur.  The abuse can be verbal, emotional, sexual or a combination of these.

One in five teenagers has experienced violence in a relationship.  Both boys and girls can be victims of dating violence, and both boys and girls can commit dating violence.

Signs of verbal, physical or sexual abuse in a relationship may include:

  • Calling you names, extreme jealousy, belittling you and/or threatening to hurt you, someone in your family or himself or herself, if you don’t do what he or she wants
  • Shoving, punching, slapping, pinching, hitting, kicking, hair pulling and/or strangling
  • Unwanted touching and kissing
  • Forcing you to have sex and/or do other sexual things

“We are committed to putting a stop to teen dating violence,” said Attorney General Hood. “To do so, we, as adults, must insure that teens understand what a healthy relationship looks like, are informed of the signs and risks of an abusive relationship and are provided with a non-judgmental avenue to seek help.”

For more information on this topic or to download a brochure called Dating Violence free of charge on the Attorney General’s website, visit www.agjimhood.com, under the media center/publications link.  The brochure explains what dating violence is, how to know if you are in an abusive relationship and what to do if you are, how to help someone you know who is being abused in their relationship and what help you can provide to someone you may know who is an abuser.


Attorney General Hood Recovers About $76 Million to Date for Mississippi from Financial and Mortgage Crisis

February 5, 2015
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Attorney General Jim Hood has returned approximately $76 million to Mississippi from losses suffered during the Financial and Mortgage Crisis of recent history.

The most recent case was settled Tuesday when Attorney General Hood announced that Mississippi, the U.S. Department of Justice and a coalition of 19 states and the District of Columbia reached a $1.375 billion settlement with Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC over allegations that S&P misled investors when it rated structured finance securities in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis.  Mississippi will receive $26,754,000 million in that settlement.  The Attorney General has also returned another $2.29 million from residential mortgage backed securities cases (RMBS), with more to come.  Additionally, a $25 billion joint federal-state agreement with the nations’ five largest mortgage servicers over foreclosure abuses and fraud, and unacceptable nationwide mortgage servicing practices in 2008 netted approximately $47.1 million for Mississippi.  That money was used to help homeowners struggling to keep their homes and those who suffered due to the foreclosure crisis while also putting $7.7 million into the state general fund.  These cases bring the Attorney General’s current total number of known recoveries for Mississippi related to the financial and mortgage crisis to $76,144,000.

“Mississippi was hurt by the greed of bigger business during the foreclosure crisis,” said Attorney General Hood.  “It is my hope that the recovery of this money will help the State rebound in a significant way.”

Mississippi can expect to see payment from the S&P settlement by March 7.

Since taking office, Attorney General Hood has returned over $857 million to the state from corporate wrongdoers.

 


Attorney General Hood Helps Lead States to $1.375 Billion State-Federal Settlement with Standard & Poor’s

February 3, 2015
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Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that Mississippi, the U.S.  Department of Justice and a coalition of 19 states and the District of Columbia have reached a settlement agreement with Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC (S&P) resolving allegations that S&P misled investors when it rated structured finance securities in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

Mississippi opened its investigation into S&P in 2010, filing its lawsuit against the company in 2011.  Mississippi partnered with Connecticut, the first State to sue S&P in 2010.  Illinois followed in 2012.  In 2013, DOJ and the other 17 states filed similar lawsuits against S&P.

The settlement requires S&P to pay $1.375 billion.  The 20 States will share $687.5 million and DOJ will receive $687.5 million.  Mississippi will receive $33 million for its role as a Lead State in the 20-state coalition.  The settlement amount is expected to wipe out S&P’s operating profit for a year.

“This settlement is the culmination of years of hard-fought litigation against an industry giant,” said Attorney General Hood.  “The result is historic because it finally and indisputably holds S&P accountable for its role in the financial crisis.  The size of the settlement and the successful partnership between the States and the Department of Justice send a strong message that no company is above the law.”

In addition to the financial settlement, S&P has agreed to a statement of facts acknowledging conduct related to its analysis of structured finance securities. S&P also agrees in the settlement to comply with all applicable state laws and, for five years, will cooperate with any request for information from any state expressing concern over a possible violation of state law. Further, the states retain authority to enforce their laws – the same laws used to bring these cases – if S&P engages in similar conduct in the future. The states and federal government have agreed to file stipulated judgments, consent judgments or similar pleadings in their lawsuits in order to implement the terms of the settlement agreement and resolve their respective court proceedings.

“The credit rating agencies were just as culpable as the investment banks in causing the financial crisis,” said Attorney General Hood. “In some ways, the conduct by the credit rating agencies was worse because these agencies held themselves out to be objective and independent.”

The federal and state lawsuits alleged that, despite S&P’s repeated statements emphasizing its independence and objectivity, the credit rating agency allowed its analysis to be influenced by its desire to earn lucrative fees from its investment bank clients – while investors and other market participants, including state regulators, relied on S&P’s promises of independence and objectivity. The complaints alleged that the agency knowingly assigned inflated credit ratings to toxic assets packaged and sold by the Wall Street investment banks. The alleged misconduct began as early as 2001 and became particularly acute between 2004 and 2007.

Structured finance securities backed by subprime mortgages were at the center of the financial crisis. These financial products, including residential mortgage backed securities (RMBS), commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS), and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), derive their value from the monthly payments consumers make on their mortgages.

In August 2014, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission adopted new requirements for credit rating agencies that address conflicts of interest and procedures to protect the integrity and transparency of rating methodologies and that provide for certifications to accompany credit ratings attesting that the ratings were not influenced by other business activities.

“I am satisfied that S&P now understands the gravity of its conduct,” said Attorney General Hood. “The result we achieved could not have happened without the cooperation of the states and partnership with the Department of Justice.  I thank Attorney General Holder and each of the Attorneys General from the settling states for their efforts in this case.”  In addition to Mississippi, the states involved in today’s settlement include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington as well as the District of Columbia.

Attorney General Hood especially thanks Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen for his Office’s exceptional leadership and partnership throughout this case.  Notes Attorney General Hood, “General Jepsen and the superb lawyers from his Office deserve immense praise.”

Mississippi and Connecticut both have pending lawsuits for similar alleged misconduct against Moody’s Investors Service.  Those cases have been temporarily stayed pending resolution of the S&P case.

Click here to view the S&P Settlement Agreement, which includes the Statement of Facts as Annex 1 (beginning on p. 53 of the PDF).