Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood Concludes his 2014-2015 National Association of Attorneys General Presidential Term

June 19, 2015
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AG Jackley presenting AG Hood his Gavel

Attorney General Jackley presents the Gavel to Attorney General Hood

Attorney General Jim Hood concluded his 2014-2015 National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) presidential term by acknowledging the work done on his year-long initiative, “Protecting Our Digital Lives: New Challenges for Attorneys General.”

Attorney General Hood delivered his final remarks last night during the NAAG Summer Meeting in San Diego, California. “We attorneys general are on the frontline of the war against digital crime. With this NAAG initiative, we focused on protecting consumers and businesses from online criminals using new technologies,” said Attorney General Hood. “The knowledge gained and ideas shared will make a difference in our legal work moving forward. I appreciate the interest and participation of my colleagues. It was an honor serving as NAAG president.”

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley was elected president of the National Association of Attorneys General. “Attorney General Jackley will be a good fit for this position as we share the same commitments to crime prevention, including protecting our children from sexual predators,” said Attorney General Hood.

During his time as president of NAAG, Attorney General Hood focused on intellectual property theft and digital crime. The Presidential Initiative Conference hosting fellow attorneys general was held at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi April 12-13, 2015. The conference presented invaluable information concerning 3D Printing, software piracy and hacking, understanding digital currency, patent trolls and other related topics.



Jackson Man Arrested for Felony Exploitation of Vulnerable Person

June 17, 2015
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A Jackson resident has been arrested following indictment for felony exploitation of a vulnerable person, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Matthew Hubbard, 32, turned himself in on Monday to investigators of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit following an indictment by the Harrison County Grand Jury on one count felony exploitation of a vulnerable person.

At the time the crimes were committed, Hubbard, who was employed as a care giver at a facility in south Mississippi, allegedly took the resident to co-sign a car loan totaling $21,288.95.

If convicted, Hubbard faces up to 10 years behind bars and $10,000 in fines.  As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by and prosecuted by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Control Fraud Unit.



Jackson Nursing Assistant Arrested for Simple Assault on a Vulnerable Person

June 17, 2015
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A Jackson nursing assistant is charged with simple assault of a vulnerable person, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Belynthia Ross, 31, turned herself into authorities after being indicted by a Rankin County Grand Jury on the charge of simple assault of a vulnerable person. At the time the crime is alleged to have been committed, Ross was working as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing and rehab center in Brandon. The defendant is accused of hitting a resident in the head.

If convicted, she faces up to five years behind bars and a $10,000 fine. As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent 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.


Attorney General Warns Consumers to Be Aware of Phone Scams Targeting Taxpayers After the Tax Season

June 16, 2015
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Attorney General Jim Hood is once again reminding Mississippi consumers to remain cautious of tax-related phone scams.  Even though the 2015 tax season has ended, these scams continue.

Con artists are impersonating IRS agents when calling and threatening Mississippi consumers. Attorney General Jim Hood warns consumers not to fall victim to these con artists or others like them. “The answer is simple for this and other similar phone scams – listen to your instincts.  If something sounds too good to be true or is suspicious, don’t take the action requested.”

How the Scam Works:

The scammer calls and claims to be an agent for the IRS. The victim is told he or she owes money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, the scammer threatens the victim with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.

Victims may be told they have a refund in an effort to trick them into sharing private information.  If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request. These con artists can sound convincing when they call, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling.

The Attorney General’s Office offers the following information and tips to avoid this scam:

The IRS will never:

      Call to demand immediate payment, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill.

      Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

      Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

      Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

      Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

      Use email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue involving bills or refunds.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

      If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe the IRS any amount, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.

      If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.

Some key tips to remember for this scam and others similar to it:

      Do not answer the phone for a number you do not recognize or that shows up as your own.

      If you do answer, hang up the minute you realize it is a scam.  Even answering simple questions in the affirmative or negative could be used to try to scam you.

      Be suspicious of anyone who is vague in identifying themselves on the phone.

      NEVER wire or send money in any form to persons or organizations you do not know.

      Always protect your personally identifiable information. Giving it personal information out could cause you to become a victim of identity theft.

For more educational information on this and other scams, please visit the Consumer section of the Attorney General’s website, www.agjimhood.com.  Anyone who suspects their personal information has been compromised or think they have been a victim of fraud, identity theft or any other should call the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office for further assistance and guidance at 1-800-281-4418.


Southaven Resident Arrested on Medicaid Fraud Charges

June 15, 2015
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A former Rankin County resident has been arrested today following her indictment on Medicaid Fraud charges, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Natarsha Shuntel Short, 38, of Southaven, turned herself in to investigators of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. A Rankin County Grand Jury indicted her on one count of Felonious Medicaid Fraud.  She is accused of turning in fraudulent time sheets while employed as a personal care sitter for a home health care agency in Flowood.

Short was booked into the Rankin County Detention Center. If convicted, she will face a maximum of five years behind bars and a $50,000 fine.  As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent 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.


Louisville Resident Arrested for Medicaid Fraud

June 10, 2015
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A Louisville woman is facing charges for filing false claims to her former employer, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Labeatris Estes, 31, was arrested Tuesday by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit following her recent indictment by a Rankin County grand jury.

Estes is accused of filing Medicaid claims for more than $10,000 for home health services that she did not provide.

Estes faces up to 15 years in prison and $150,000 in fines if convicted. She was booked into the Rankin County Detention Center.

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

Former Brookhaven Resident Going to Prison for Manslaughter and Armed Robbery

June 8, 2015
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A former Brookhaven man has been sentenced for manslaughter and armed robbery, announced Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Aaron LaDaniel Lyons, age 34, was sentenced today by Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge David Strong for the January 16, 2004, robbery and shooting death of a Lincoln County convenience store owner.  Judge Strong sentenced Lyons to 20 years for manslaughter and 35 years for armed robbery with five years suspended and five years of post-release supervision.  The sentences are to run consecutively with a total number of 50 years to serve.  Lyons was ordered to pay $5,000 in fines, restitution to the victim’s family for funeral related expenses and court costs.

On January 16, 2004, John Henry Deere, Jr., 55, was shot and killed during a robbery at the Airport Pic-n-Pac on Highway 51 near Brookhaven.   In March of 2005, another individual was indicted for the crime, but he was later released and charges were dismissed due to the lack of physical evidence.  In June 2013, DNA from the crime scene was matched in a national database to Lyons who was in prison in Texas on unrelated charges.  Lyons was indicted September 3, 2014, on one count of murder, one count of armed robbery, and one count of conspiracy.  The conspiracy charge was dismissed.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims family,” said Attorney General Jim Hood.  “We greatly appreciate the work of the Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing, and 14th Judicial District Attorney, Dewitt “Dee” Bates, Jr.”  The case was prosecuted by Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.


Nine Undocumented Immigrants Arrested in Raymond for Identity Theft

June 1, 2015
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Nine people identified as undocumented immigrants have been arrested in Raymond  for identity theft.  The arrests took place May 28, 2015, at the American DairyCo plant in Raymond after an investigation by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division as a member of the Homeland Security Investigations Task Force. Those arrested and charged with fraudulent use of identity are  *Eduardo Lopez-Cardona, 22 *Irvin Mejia-Saavedra, 26 *Ramiro Saniago-Monilo, 25 *Guillermo Garcia-Cruz, 39 *Ludin Maudiel Hernandez-Vasquez, 25 *Porfirio Rodriguez-Jimenez , 37 *Elvir Molina-Ramirez , 40 *Carlos Benigno Garcia-Perez, 20 *Juan Jose Chacon-Ramirez, 34.  The defendants are alleged to have purchased fraudulent social security cards.

“This case is a great example of the significance of our federal partnerships,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “We appreciate our great working relationship with Homeland Security Investigations”.

“Fraudulent documents threaten our nation’s security by making it easier for criminals to hide in plain sight and commit a range of offenses,” said Jerry Templet, Acting Deputy Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans. “Further, stolen identity documents create a potential nightmare scenario in which citizens could be held responsible for criminal acts committed by aliens possessing fraudulent identity documents in their names. This investigation shows HSI and its state partners will continue to investigate and seek prosecution of these cases wherever they occur.”

Officials with the company where the defendants worked cooperated with officials. The defendants were booked into the Raymond Detention Center and are being held on a $250,000 bond. Once the state charges are resolved, the defendants will be released to ICE custody.

The case was investigated by Special Agent John Rackley of Homeland Security Investigations and Bo Luckey with the Attorney Generals Office Consumer Protection Division, assigned to the HSI Task Force. The case will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Patrick Beasley. As with all cases, the defendants are  presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.