Mississippi Receives $1.47 Million from Settlement with General Motors Company Over Defective Ignition Switch

October 23, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced that Mississippi will receive $1,470,156.60 from a $120 million multi-state settlement with General Motors Company (“GM”). The settlement resolves an investigation into allegations that GM failed to disclose problems with ignition switches installed in 2.1 million automobiles in the United States.

“GM knew that people could be killed or seriously injured because of these defective switches but hid the problem anyway,” said General Hood.

The defective switches, under certain conditions, unexpectedly shifted from the “run” position to “accessory” or “off,” causing vehicles to stall. In addition to shutting down the engine, the defect also disabled power steering, power brakes, and airbags. Although GM became aware of this defect early as 2004, it took no action to notify consumers of the danger until 2014 when it issued the first of several vehicle recall notices. A list of the affected vehicles and the recall notices is included below.

“Anyone who owns a GM vehicle should review these notices to make sure their vehicle is safe,” said General Hood.

Any consumer who has purchased an affected vehicle and believes that they may have a claim against GM may file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office for help processing the claims. Complaints can be filed online at www.agjimhood.com

Ignition Switch Recalls

  • NHTSA Recall No. 14V047, which includes these Motor Vehicles: Model Year (“MY”) 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, MY 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, MY 2005-2006 Pontiac Pursuit, MY 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice, MY 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, MY 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, and MY 2007-2010 Saturn Sky
  • NHTSA Recall No. 14V346, which includes these Motor Vehicles: MY 2010-2014 Chevrolet Camaro
  • NHTSA Recall No. 14V355, which includes these Motor Vehicles: MY 2005-2009 Buick LaCrosse, MY 2006-2011 Buick Lucerne, MY 2000-2005 Cadillac DeVille, MY 2006-2011 Cadillac DTS, MY 2006-2014 Chevrolet Impala, and MY 2006-2007 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
  • NHTSA Recall No. 14V394, which includes these Motor Vehicles: MY 2003-2014 Cadillac CTS and MY 2004-2006 Cadillac SRX
  • NHTSA Recall No. 14V400, which includes these Motor Vehicles: MY 2000-2005 Chevrolet Impala, MY 1997-2003 Chevrolet Malibu, MY 2004-2005 Chevrolet Malibu Classic, MY 2000-2005 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, MY 1999-2004 Oldsmobile Alero, MY 1998-2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue, MY 1999-2005 Pontiac Grand Am, and MY 2004-2008 Pontiac Grand Prix
  • NHTSA Recall No. 14V490, which includes the Motor Vehicle MY 2002-2004 Saturn Vue
  • NHTSA Recall No. 14V540, which includes these Motor Vehicles: MY 2011-2013 Chevrolet Caprice and MY 2008-2009 Pontiac G8


Tunica Woman Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to Second-Degree Murder

October 23, 2017

 

Gloria Jean Logan pleaded guilty Friday to the stabbing death of her neighbor, Rosemary Brown.

A 59-year-old Tunica woman is going to prison for 25 years for murdering her neighbor, Attorney General Jim Hood announced today.

 

Gloria Jean Logan pleaded guilty Friday to the stabbing death of her neighbor, Rosemary Brown. Logan, who was originally charged with first-degree murder, entered a best interest plea, meaning she thought there was evidence to convict her of the original charge. She pleaded to a reduced charge of second-degree murder. Coahoma County Circuit Court Judge Charles Webster sentenced Logan to 30 years in prison, with 25 year to serve, five years suspended, and five years post-release supervision. She must also pay $350 in court costs and complete mandatory mental evaluation and treatment.

Logan was arrested May 11, 2013, by the Tunica County Sheriff’s Department after a resident at Clayton Henderson Meadows Apartments found a trail of blood between Logan’s apartment and the victim’s apartment next door. When Tunica County sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found Brown’s body inside her own apartment with 19 stab wounds, mostly in the chest and neck area. She was pronounced dead on the scene.

“This woman is finally where she needs to be for committing such a heinous act,” said General Hood. “Our office is tasked with keeping Mississippians safe, and we often do that through a good working relationship with other agencies such as Tunica County.”

This case was originally handled by the Tunica County District Attorney, but she recused herself due to a conflict of interest and handed it over to the AG’s office in April 2014. Logan was indicted by a Tunica County grand jury that August.

This case was investigated by Perry Tate of the AG’s Public Integrity Division, with assistance from the Tunica County Sheriff’s Department. It was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders.

 


North Mississippi Bars, Businesses Found in Violation for Selling to Minors

October 20, 2017

Nine bars and businesses and 23 individuals were issued 34 total violations or citations in Oxford, Starkville, and Cleveland over the past week as the result of alcohol and beer compliance checks by investigators with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement Division, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

The violations include 11 violations for selling alcohol to minors, 18 citations for minor in possession (MIP), and five citations for fake ID.

The violations issued in Oxford, Starkville, and Cleveland include 11 violations for selling alcohol to minors, 18 citations for minor in possession (MIP), and five citations for fake ID.

The following Oxford businesses received citations when checked for compliance on selling alcohol to minors on October 12:

·       City Grocery        152 Courthouse Square                    2 VIOLATIONS

·       The Corner Bar    1002 Jackson Avenue East              VIOLATION

·       Wards Short Stop    2502 Old Taylor Road                   VIOLATION

 

 

 

Minors received citations at the following Oxford business for Minor in Possession:

·       Rooster’s     114 Courthouse Square   6 VIOLATIONS (3 on Oct. 12, 3 on Oct. 19)

 

Individuals received citations at the following Oxford business for Fake ID on October 19:

·       Rooster’s                 3 VIOLATIONS

 

The following businesses in Oxford did not receive a citation when checked for compliance on selling alcohol to minors on October 12:

·       Blue Sky                                              101 North Thacker Loop

·       Circle K #1542                                     485 Highway 6

·       Levee of Oxford                                   1008 Jackson Avenue

·       Three Way Store                                 1500 Old Highway 7 North

 

The following businesses in Oxford did not let anyone under the age of 21 inside on October 12:

·       Funkys

·       The Round Table on the Square

·       Old Venice (Burgundy Room)

 

Minors received citations at the following Starkville businesses on October 19 for Minor in Possession:

·       Casa Bravo             7 VIOLATIONS

·       Drifters                    4 VIOLATIONS

·       Gringo’s                  VIOLATION

 

Individuals received citations at the following Starkville business on October 19 for Fake ID:

·       Drifter’s                      2 VIOLATIONS

 

The following businesses in Starkville did not receive a citation when checked for compliance on selling alcohol to minors on October 19:

·       Klaasroom

·       StaggerIn

·       Buffalo Wild Wings

·       La Terraza

 

The following Cleveland businesses received citations on October 19 when checked for compliance on selling alcohol to minors:

·       61 Beer & Tobacco            420 North Davis Avenue               2 VIOLATIONS

·       Andy’s Quick Stop             101 5th Avenue                            VIOLATION

·       Cleveland Gas Mart           309 East Sunflower Road             VIOLATION

·       Hey Joe’s                          118 East Sunflower Road             VIOLATION

·       Night Rider Mart                1325 Highway 8                           VIOLATION

·       Super Save #18                 716 East Sunflower Road             VIOLATION

 

The following businesses in Cleveland did not receive a citation when checked for compliance on selling alcohol to minors on October 19:                                    

·       Dodges Store                    714 North Davis Avenue

·       No Way Jose                     1321 Highway 8 Suite 2

·       On the Rocks                    717 East Sunflower Road

·       Pickle Okra                        201 South Sharpe Avenue

·       Z- Mart                              210 North Martin Luther King Drive                              

 

Additionally, the following gas stations had their beer permits suspended Monday morning:

·       Fast Jacks                               203 West Monroe Avenue, Okolona

·       ZZ Mart                                    210 North Martin Luther King Drive, Cleveland

 

The suspensions are effective through Monday, October 23, at 10 a.m. During this time, the suspended businesses may not sell, give away, furnish, or purchase any beer or light wine.

Businesses who are convicted for selling alcohol or beer to minors face up to six months in prison and/or up to $500 in fines, as well as having their liquor license and/or beer permit revoked. Individuals who receive a citation and are convicted for Minor in Possession and Fake ID face a fine between $200 and $500 and must complete up to 30 days of community service. 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. 


AG Hood Calls on Credit Bureaus to Halt Fees for Consumers Impacted by Massive Equifax Breach

October 19, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today he joined 36 other attorneys general in urging consumer reporting agencies Experian and TransUnion to immediately stop charging fees to consumers who want to put credit freezes on their accounts in light of the massive data breach at the consumer reporting agency Equifax.

“If these agencies do not waive their fees, I intend to make Equifax pay for the fees that victims have incurred due to their hack,” said General Hood. “For customers who have already paid fees to place a freeze on their account, Equifax must reimburse them.”

The attorneys general sent a letter last week to the consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) urging them to stop charging fees for credit freezes and fees to lift or temporarily lift credit freezes on consumers’ accounts. The Equifax data breach reported last month has so far affected over 145 million Americans, including more than 1.3 million Mississippians.

Immediately after that breach, General Hood joined a group of attorneys general that forced Equifax to extend their free credit monitoring through the end of January. Although Equifax also agreed to waive fees for its security freezes, people are still having to pay fees at other agencies. While it is legal in Mississippi to charge up to $10 to place a freeze on credit reports, General Hood believes a measure to waive that fee in extreme situations such as this breach should be seriously considered. The CRAs profit by selling consumers’ information, and they have a responsibility to protect that same information.

Three actions are suggested for consumers when credit breaches take place: 1) freezing credit, 2) monitoring credit, and 3) locking credit.

  • A credit freeze is when a consumer’s credit report data is sealed and made inaccessible to third parties. This prevents identity theft, and protection of credit through a freeze is guaranteed by law; however, the freeze must be lifted in order to open new lines of credit or apply for a loan or mortgage.
  • Credit monitoring is a system that monitors for fraudulent activity on a consumer’s credit report—such as a new account or credit inquiry—and notifies consumers of suspicious actions. Having credit monitored usually lasts for one year before the initial request expires.
  • A credit lock is similar to a credit freeze, but rather than being guaranteed by law, it is an agreement between the consumer and the credit monitoring company, which generally means consumers are liable for any issues that take place while an account is locked. Lifting a lock is also usually much faster than lifting a freeze.

Currently, some of the CRAs are offering credit locks but in some cases are also charging a monthly fee for the lock and combining it with other services, such as credit monitoring. In other cases, the CRAs offer a credit freeze free of charge, but the terms and conditions indicate that consumers’ information will be shared with affiliates and third party marketers.

In addition, General Hood offered the following tips consumers can take to safeguard against identity theft:

  • Regularly request your free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;
  • Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;
  • Consider placing alerts on your financial accounts so your financial institution alerts you when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;
  • Beware of potential phishing emails; don’t open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders, and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and
  • Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.


Former Care Worker Sentenced for Stealing Money, Diamond Ring from Patients

October 13, 2017

 

Leslie Burkett, of Jackson, was sentenced on felony charges of fraudulent use of identity and exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the guilty plea and sentencing of 29-year-old Leslie Burkett, of Jackson, who was charged with one count each of fraudulent use of identity and exploitation of a vulnerable adult, which are both felony charges.

 

Burkett, a former direct care worker at a Pearl nursing home, pleaded guilty to and was sentenced Monday on both charges in Rankin County Circuit Court. She was indicted last year for stealing several patients’ debit cards and making more than $1,000 in fraudulent transactions on those cards. Additionally, she stole a patient’s diamond ring and pawned it. The ring has an estimated value of more than $3,000.

Judge John Emfinger sentenced Burkett to two years in MDOC with one year suspended and one year to serve, followed by five years of supervised probation for both counts. The sentence will be served concurrently.  She was also ordered to pay $250 to the Crime Victim Compensation Fund and $250 to the Office of the Attorney General for investigation and court costs, as well as full restitution to the victims.

“Most caregivers take good care of our elderly every day,” said General Hood. “However, this one chose to steal. I hope this one year sentence and the burden of a felony conviction will deter any caregiver contemplating taking advantage of the patients in their care.”

This case was investigated by the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Myrick Jackson.


Fayette Woman Arrested for Insurance Fraud

October 12, 2017

Kyomi M. Fulton, 30., of Fayette, was arrested following her indictment for one count of insurance fraud.

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of 30-year-old Kyomi M. Fulton on one count of insurance fraud.

Fulton, of Fayette, attempted to defraud GEICO Insurance Company. She reported a 2000 Grand Marquis to the company as stolen and then submitted a false repair report alleging that she had put a new engine in the vehicle before it was stolen. The false car repair order she submitted totaled $3,238.89 in repairs. The indictment—handed down by a Copiah County grand jury—stated no such repairs had been made. Fulton was arrested Wednesday by Investigators Michael Stevens and Jerry Spell with the Attorney General’s Office and booked into the Copiah County Sheriff’s Office.

If convicted, Fulton faces up to three years in prison and $5,000 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.

This case was investigated by Stevens with assistance from the Copiah County Sheriff’s Office and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Robert G. “Bob” Anderson.


Jackson Woman Arrested for Workers’ Compensation Fraud

October 11, 2017

Francine Owens (who also goes by the last name of Wren), 35, of Jackson, is charged with one count of workers’ compensation fraud.

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of 35-year-old Francine Owens, who is charged with one count of workers’ compensation fraud.

Owens, of Jackson—who also goes by the last name of Wren—turned herself in to the Hinds County Sheriff’s Department Tuesday. She is accused of giving misleading statements to Indemnity Insurance Company of North America, claiming she was not receiving secondary income while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. While receiving those benefits, it was discovered that she had another job and did not provide that information to the insurance company.

If convicted, Owens faces up to five years in prison and $15,000 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.

This case was investigated the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders.


AG Hood Reminds Storm Victims of Tips to Prevent Fraudulent Home Repair

October 11, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood is reminding Mississippians who suffered property damage as a result of Hurricane Nate to be on alert for tree cutters who may be scammers.

“Unfortunately, we saw homeowners who were scammed by tree cutters and repairmen after Hurricane Katrina, especially those from out of state, so we are reminding people what to look out for when they are in a position of needing to rebuild or fix their home,” said General Hood. “There are plenty of honest and ethical business people out there, but the sad truth is that there is another side to it. Our team of investigators will be in coastal communities providing tips and form contracts to make sure that people do not fall victim to these acts.”

Here are some tips to protect you and your loved ones from fraudulent tree cutters, roofers, and others:

  • Verify that the company you are considering is insured. Ask for a copy of the certificate of insurance.
  • Do your research. Contact our Consumer Protection Division or the Better Business Bureau of Mississippi to see if they have complaints against the company. Ask for several local references and make sure to follow through on checking them. Look online at reviews of their work.
  • Take time to shop around and be suspicious of any price that seems unusually high or low. Get written estimates from more than one company, and check with friends or family who’ve had tree work done recently to see what they paid and who they recommend.
  • Ask how the job will be done and if they will perform the work according to industry standards. For tree removal services, pay attention to the “lingo” such as “topping a tree,” “lion’s-tailing” or “using climbing spikes to prune a tree.” Sometimes these techniques will be presented as a way to save money by removing more of the tree at one time; however, these practices can injure or kill trees, and trees pruned by one of these methods usually requires more expensive restoration work in the future in order to save it.
  • Ask about post-job clean up and debris removal. Before the job is started, ask if the company will remove the tree, damaged roof, or other items from your property as well. If you don’t, it could lead to you having to also pay for debris removal.

More information on home repair fraud can be found in our online guide, “Consumer Tips for Storm Victims,” at www.agjimhood.com.

If home repair fraud is suspected, contact the AG’s Consumer Protection Division at (601) 359-4230 or (800) 281-4418. You may also email concerns to aginfo@ago.state.ms.us