Collins Resident Going to Prison for Child Exploitation

January 20, 2016
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Kenneth James Cooper, 30, of Collins, pled guilty Tuesday to one count of child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Cooper appeared before Covington County Circuit Judge Eddie H. Bowen and was sentenced to 40 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with five years to serve and 35 years of post-release supervision.  Cooper was ordered to pay $1,000 to the Mississippi Children’s Trust Fund and $1,000 to the Mississippi Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund.  Cooper must also register as a sex offender.

At the time crimes were committed, Cooper was arrested at his home May 4, 2015, by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, with assistance from the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force and the Covington County Sheriff’s Office. The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that Cooper had downloaded numerous images and videos of child pornography on his computer.

“The greatest threat to our children is the people they meet online,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “The internet provides countless ways for predators to make contact with our children. The message I want to make clear to child pornographers throughout the state of Mississippi is:  We are watching you on-line, we have crystal clear evidence against you when we knock on your door, you will have to serve at least five years without parole in the penitentiary, and you will have to register as a convicted sex offender for a minimum of 25 years.  Is it worth it?”

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Division.


Former Sunflower County Registered Nurse Charged with Illegally Obtaining Patient’s Drugs

January 11, 2016
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Samuel Chase Henderson, 34, of Indianola, has been arrested today following the indictment by a Sunflower County Grand Jury for three felony counts of Obtaining a Controlled Substance by Fraud, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

At the time of the alleged crimes, Henderson was a nurse employed at Sunflower County Hospital. In each count of the indictment, Henderson is charged with fraudulently obtaining Demerol, a Schedule II Controlled Substance, prescribed for multiple patients and converting it to his own use. 

Henderson was booked into the Sunflower County Jail and released from custody after posting a $10,000 bond. His arraignment date is set for January 20th at 1:30 P.M.

For each count, Henderson faces up to five years behind bars and a $1,000 fine for a total of 15 potential years and $3,000 in fines. 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 by Norman Young and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Mark McClinton and Katie Moulds of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

 


Corinth Nurse Arrested for Medicaid Fraud Charges

January 8, 2016

Tami Bivens-Johnson, 55, of Corinth, is facing charges of Medicaid Fraud, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Bivens-Johnson turned herself in today to the Alcorn County Sheriff’s Department following a recent indictment by an Alcorn County Grand Jury on three counts of Felonious Medicaid Fraud.

Bivens-Johnson, as a nurse practitioner in Corinth, did willfully, unlawfully and feloniously make, present and cause to be made and presented false, fictitious and fraudulent claims for more than $3,200 in Medicaid benefits, knowing the claims to be false, fictitious and fraudulent. In Count I, claims for some 57 Medicaid recipients presented for payment and billed as medical services which she represented had been provided in her clinic, are alleged to have been prescription refills done over the telephone. In Counts II and III, It is alleged that Bivens-Johnson filed claims representing that she had provided medical services in her clinic to Medicaid recipients, although she allegedly was in New York (Count II) and Florida (Count III) at the times.

Bivens-Johnson faces 15 years in prison and $150,000 in fines if convicted. She is also required by a provision in the state statute to pay a treble civil penalty in the approximate amount of $9,600. Her bond was set at $10,000 and she waived her arraignment.

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

The case was investigated by Barrick Fortune and Analysts Mark Branning and Richard Cameron of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. The case will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Sue Perry.


Attorney General Hood Warns Mississippi Residents of U.S. Office of Personnel Management Data Breach

December 16, 2015
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The Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division has recently received numerous calls regarding a recent data breach reported by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) potentially affecting more than 21 million people nationwide whose personal information was stolen in a cyber-breach of government security-clearance files, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

The breach of personnel files involved personal and career information on 4.2 million current and former federal employees. The security-clearance breach involved 21.5 million people who applied for security clearances or had them renewed since about 2000, and in some cases before. Of that larger group, about 3.6 million are current or former federal employees. Most of the rest are current or former military or contractor personnel. About 1.8 million were not applicants but were identified in another person’s application. Beyond basic identifying information, the breach included highly personal information on applicants, such as past financial or legal troubles, as well as the fingerprints of about 5.6 million people.

“Data breaches and identity theft continue to cause significant harm to consumers, and full-scale identity theft involving the use of just a Social Security number can cost a consumer $5,100 on average,” said Attorney General Hood. “I am a victim of this hack, too, and I intend to check my credit regularly for at least a decade.”

As a result of the data breach, the OPM is providing identity theft protection and monitoring services to those who were affected and any of their dependent children who were under the age of 18 as of July 1, 2015. Services include credit and identity monitoring, identity theft insurance, and identity theft restoration for the next three years through ID Experts, a company that specializes in identity theft protection. The services are to last through 2016 in the personnel files case and through 2018 in the clearance files case.

The OPM sent out notices to those whose data was stolen. Consumers should verify with the OPM before taking advantage of the free credit monitoring offered. The OPM and ID Experts will not contact consumers to confirm any personal information and advises consumers not to provide their personal information in relation to this incident. The OPM is only contacting consumers by mail; so if an email from the OPM is received instead, then it is likely fraudulent.

“We appreciate the OPM for taking action and providing the sufficient tools and services to help consumers who have fallen victim to this scam,” said Attorney General Hood.  “Since 2005, nearly 5,000 data breaches have compromised more than 815 million records containing sensitive information about consumers, including their financial account information, Social Security numbers or medical information. The numbers continue to escalate in 2015. Consumers are entitled to check their credit annually at no cost, and regular monitoring is one of the most important ways to protect your credit.”

The OPM has set up a website and phone line for those who believe they should have received a notice but haven’t. Consumers can call 800-750-3004 or visit www.opm.gov/cybersecurity. Consumers can contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-281-4418 if they have a problem with the current number provided by the OPM. Those who did not receive a letter, but think they may have been impacted, can call 1-866-408-4555.

Anyone who suspects they have been a victim of identity theft or any other scam should contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-281-4418 or visit www.agjimhood.com.


Alcorn County Resident Going to Prison for Insurance Fraud

December 16, 2015
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Joshua James Marlar, 35, of Alcorn County, has been sentenced for insurance fraud and wire fraud, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Marlar appeared in Alcorn County Circuit Court before Judge Paul S. Funderburk Monday for his sentencing after pleading guilty in April 2014 to one count each of insurance fraud and wire fraud. Sentencing was deferred to allow the defendant time to collect some of the restitution money.

The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that between April and October 2011, the defendant while serving as an insurance agent for Colonial Life Insurance and AFLAC Insurance Company, was paid approximately $206,000 in commission and bonuses by providing fictitious documentation for policy enrollment.

Judge Funderburk sentenced Marlar to three years suspended for insurance fraud and five years to serve for wire fraud. Marlar was ordered to pay $157,500 in restitution to Colonial Life Insurance, $33,850.64 to AFLAC Insurance Company and  $4,815 to the State General Fund for investigative cost. Following Marlar’s release from active custody, then he is to be transferred to a restitution center until all restitution and cost of court are reimbursed.

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Larry Baker and investigated by Christopher Watkins of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division/Insurance Fraud Unit.

 


AG AND THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY ISSUES SCAM ALERT

December 10, 2015

Scammers Impersonate Personnel from the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security

Attorney General Jim Hood and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety (MDPS) are warning Mississippi consumers of an email scam in which the scammers pose as personnel from the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security (OHS) to illicitly collect money.

Mississippi residents reported receiving email notices from accounts that appear to be sent from personnel of the OHS.  However, the email was not sent by OHS personnel, and it is a fraudulent attempt to trick consumers into sending money.

The fraudulent email states, “This is to informed you that we have today received the letter Indemnity and fund transfer certificate and other documents from the Nigeria Embassy here in Washington, DC as directed, so bear in mind that we are very satisfy with the documents and in that regard you are to pay for the Homeland Security fund Transfer clearance fee of US$1,250 before we will instructed the crediting of your fund into your bank account.”

The email advises (“advice”) the consumer to send the fee “with our cashier’s information” to an individual in Bentonia, Mississippi at an incomplete address and tells the consumer “immediately the fee is made do forward the information to enable give instruction for the crediting of your funds into your bank account.”

“These emails are fraudulent and were not sent by the Mississippi OHS,” said Attorney General Hood. “Recipients should be warned that the intent of these emails is to illicitly collect money and, in likely follow-up correspondence, personal information. Consumers should not, under any circumstances, send money or provide any personal financial information in response to this email.”

 

“The Mississippi Office of Homeland Security does not solicit money, period, via email, telephone or otherwise,” said MOHS Director Rusty Barnes.

The email contains severable notable signs of fraud, such as poor grammar and misspelled words.  However, some of the email-based fraud attempts are extremely sophisticated and look completely legitimate.  In addition, this email seeks to fool consumers into believing it is from a legitimate or trusted source.

Attorney General Hood and the MDPS offer these tips to protect themselves from becoming a victim of this email scam and/or similar scams:

  • Federal and State Governmental agencies, including the Mississippi OHS, do not send emails asking for money under any circumstances.
  • Consumers should not respond to any unsolicited e-mails or click on any embedded links associated with such e-mails, as these links may contain viruses or malware.
  • Once a consumer is defrauded, it is not unusual for scammers to trade a victim’s contact information with other scamming entities.
  • Never give out, send or confirm financial or other sensitive information, including your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number, unless you know who you’re dealing with.

If you get an email or call from someone claiming to be from or affiliated with the Mississippi OHS and they ask for money or financial information, do not respond.  Instead, call the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-281-4418 to report the email.  If you have fallen victim to a scam, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division at www.agjimhood.com.


Hinds County Resident Convicted of Assault of a Vulnerable Person

December 9, 2015
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Belinthia Ross, 32, of Jackson, has been convicted by a Rankin County Jury for simple assault of a vulnerable person, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

The jury trial of Ross concluded Tuesday with a verdict finding Ross guilty of simple assault of a vulnerable person.

The Attorney General’s investigation showed that Ross hit an 83 year old female resident of a local nursing home. As a result of the assault, the victim was unconscious and bruised.

Rankin County Circuit Court Judge William E. Chapman III has set the sentencing for February 2016. Ross faces up to five years behind bars and/or a $1,000 fine and was immediately taken into custody.

This case was investigated by Jake Windham and was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Sue Perry and Garland Lyell of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.


FORMER MAYOR OF TERRY SENTENCED TO SERVE 40 YEARS IN CUSTODY OF MDOC

December 8, 2015
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Roderick Nicholson, Former Mayor of Terry, was sentenced to serve 40 years in custody of Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), with 10 to serve. He was also ordered to pay restitution and court costs in the amount of $7,629.12.

Nicholson pled guilty to five counts of embezzlement November 23, 2015, and has been in custody of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department.

From January 2011 through December 2012, the Mayor used the Town of Terry’s credit card to make unauthorized personal purchases and submitted false bills to be repaid by the Town of Terry.

“It is a good day for the Town of Terry knowing their tax dollars aren’t being spent on the former mayor’s personal bills,” said State Auditor Stacey Pickering.  “I’d like to thank the Attorney General’s Office for working jointly on pursuing this investigation.”

Mayor Nicholson was arrested by agents from the State Auditor’s Office and investigators with the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division in March on a Rankin County Grand Jury indictment.

“The duties of public office demand absolute integrity,” said Attorney General Hood.  “We appreciate Judge Chapman’s sentence ordering full restitution and time behind bars. We also appreciate the cooperation between our office and the Department of Audit which led to this successful prosecution.”

The case was jointly investigated by the Auditor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division, and prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander and Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.