Former Whitfield Employee Sentenced for Abusing Vulnerable Person

May 16, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the sentencing of a former Mississippi State Hospital employee, who was charged with abusing a hospital resident.

James Sorrell, 36, of Richland, pled guilty and was sentenced in Rankin County Circuit Court Monday on one count of abuse of a vulnerable person. Sorrell, who was a Whitfield employee, broke a residents jaw by punching the resident in the face. Judge William Chapman, at the request of the Attorney General’s Office, found that this was a crime of violence, meaning Sorrell will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least half of his sentence.

“We appreciate the good caregivers who work long hours for low pay caring for our most vulnerable,” said General Hood. “However, it is a bright line healthcare workers know not to cross- do not let your temper cause you to harm a person in your care. Healthcare workers are trained to get help if they need assistance with a patient. I hope Judge Chapman’s 10 year sentence will serve as a deterrence to all those working with patients.”

Sorrell was sentenced to 20 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with 10 years suspended, 10 to serve, and five years post-release supervision. He was also ordered to pay all court costs and assessments.

This case was investigated by Investigators Jake Windham and Joel Houston and was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Katie Moulds with the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.


Attorney General Jim Hood Partners With Police Chiefs for Seventh Annual Fallen Officers Candlelight Vigil

May 11, 2017

The seventh annual Mississippi Fallen Law Enforcement Officers Candlelight Vigil will be held Tuesday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Statewide Fallen Officers Memorial in Jackson.

Attorney General Jim Hood will join the Mississippi Chiefs of Police in hosting the ceremony, which coincides with National Police Week, to honor the men and women our state has lost in their service to protect us.

“We always know law enforcement are there to help us in times of trouble,” said General Hood. “Sadly, we forever feel the loss and emptiness of those officers those brave souls who died in the line of duty.”

The following names of five fallen Mississippi law enforcement officers have been added to the wall this year:

  • M. Millstead           4/17/1920          Richton Town Marshal
  • William L. Dunnam     4/1/1921           Richton Town Marshal
  • John R. Harris            7/18/1922         Hinds County S.O.
  • Clarence J. Lanier      8/11/1930         Warren County S.O.
  • James Lee Tartt         2/20/2016         MS Bureau of Narcotics

“Having been a police officer and chief, I know all too well the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make every day,” said Ken Winter, Executive Director of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police. “Our candlelight vigil is a solemn reminder of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice with their life. Join us at the vigil to show surviving family and officers that we’ll never forget.”

General Hood is the keynote speaker for the event.

Law enforcement agencies statewide and members of the public, along with family and friends of any Mississippi law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty, are invited to join officers from the Mississippi Chiefs of Police Association and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office at the event.

WHAT: Mississippi Fallen Law Enforcement Officers Candlelight Vigil

WHERE: Mississippi Statewide Fallen Officers Memorial, Jackson (located off of High Street between the Walter Sillers and Gartin Justice Buildings)
** In the event of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the lobby of the Walter Sillers Building.

WHEN: Tuesday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m.


Tylertown Man Charged with Child Exploitation, Possession of Child Pornography

May 11, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of a Tylertown, Mississippi man who was charged with one count of child exploitation and possession of child pornography.

Mickey Luter, 60, was arrested at his home Wednesday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit with assistance from the Tylertown Police Department. He was booked in the Walthall County Detention Center awaiting his initial appearance today.

If convicted, Luter faces up to 40 years in prison and fines ranging from $50,000 to $500,000. 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 Investigator Jay Houston with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and it will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


Corinth Woman Charged with Felony Exploitation of a Vulnerable Person

May 8, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced that 34-year-old Peggy Pickens of Corinth was charged with one felony count of exploitation of a vulnerable person after indictment by the Alcorn County Grand Jury.

Pickens is accused of using social security disbursements belonging to two patients for her own benefit while the patients were in a long term care facility. She is accused of withdrawing $3,253.10 from the patients accounts between March 2016 and May 2016.

This case is set for trial in Alcorn County Circuit Court on June 22, 2017. If convicted, Pickens faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000.  After turning herself in at the Alcorn County Jail, she was released on a $5,000 bond. 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 Investigator Joe Sanderson and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Mark Ward.


EMT Pleads Guilty to Fondling of a Vulnerable Person On the Job

May 8, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the guilty plea and sentencing of 37-year-old Bryan Englebert, who was sentenced Thursday, May 4, in Lowndes County Circuit Court on one count of fondling of a vulnerable person.

Englebert was an EMT from Walnut, Mississippi. His charge stemmed from an incident that occurred in an ambulance where the victim was being transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Columbus. He entered an open plea to fondling of a vulnerable person.

“Sexual abuse of vulnerable persons will not be tolerated, said General Hood. “This office will vigorously prosecute these cases when they occur.”

Englebert was sentenced to 15 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with 10 suspended and five to serve, in addition to five years post-release supervision. Englebert will also be required to register as a sex offender and pay all costs of court as well as a $2,400 fine and $500 to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

This case was investigated by Investigator Joe Sanderson and was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Katie Moulds.


Federal Student Loan Cancellation Available for Former Corinthian College Students

May 5, 2017

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, along with the Attorneys General of at least 43 other states and the District of Columbia, recently announced that thousands of Mississippi students are eligible for federal student loan cancellation.

Eligible students must have attended and used those loans at schools operated by the for-profit Corinthian Colleges, Inc.- including Everest Institute, Everest College, Everest University, Heald College, and Wyotech. When a student’s federal loan is cancelled, the student will no longer make payments on the loan, and any payments already made will be refunded.

“This is a victory for students who were scammed in their efforts to further their education,” said General Hood. “I hope these refunds are a relief for these thousands of former students who were taken advantage of by a for-profit college.”

Nearly 6,000 Mississippians are eligible for federal student loan cancellation and will receive a letter explaining the relief available. Recipients should then file the enclosed application with the U.S. Department of Education.

After intense scrutiny by various government entities, for-profit Corinthian Colleges abruptly ceased operations in 2015, transferring some of its campuses to a non-profit called Zenith Education Group. The U.S. Department of Education then found that while it was operating, Corinthian Colleges made widespread misrepresentations between 2010 and 2014 about post-graduation employment rates at its campuses across the nation. Lists of the affected campuses, programs, and dates of enrollment are available at https://www.StudentAid.gov/ev-wy-findings and https://www.StudentAid.gov/heald-findings. Students who first enrolled in the identified campuses and programs during the specified time periods are eligible for streamlined discharge of their federal student loans.

 

The Attorney General’s outreach will be sent to students who fall within the U.S. Department of Education’s findings of fraud discussed above and are eligible for a special “streamlined” process to discharge their federal student loans. However, any student who attended Corinthian Colleges and believes that the school was untruthful about job prospects, the transferability of credits, or other issues may apply to have their federal student loans canceled using the Department of Education’s universal discharge application at https://borrowerdischarge.ed.gov. More information is available at https://studentaid.ed.gov/borrower-defense.

“All borrowers should beware of student loan scams,” said Hood. “You can apply for loan forgiveness, or get information on loan forgiveness, for free through the U.S. Department of Education, which never charges application or maintenance fees. If you’re asked to pay, walk away.”

It may take time for the U.S. Dept. of Education to process applications, so anyone who applies for loan discharge should continue making payments on the affected loans until informed by the U.S. Dept. of Education or the loan servicer that the federal loans are in forbearance or have been cancelled.

More information about the office’s outreach to former Corinthian Colleges students can be obtained by contacting the U.S. Department of Education hotline at 1-855-279-6207. Questions about discharge of federal student loans may also be sent by e-mail to FSAOperations@ed.gov.


Former Cleveland Police Officer Arrested for Grand Larceny

May 5, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of a former police officer with the City of Cleveland on a grand larceny charge.

Sandra Lomax, 35, of Robinsonville, was indicted on one count of grand larceny by the Bolivar County Grand Jury in March and arrested Wednesday, May 3. Lomax is accused of taking over $5,000 from a citizen while she was employed as a Cleveland police officer. She was booked and released on a $10,000 bond.

If convicted, Lomax faces up to 10 years in prison with a maximum fine of $10,000. 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 Investigator Anita Ray and will be prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander.


Attorney General Announces the Consumer Guide to Solar Power in Mississippi

May 3, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood is pleased to announce the creation of the Consumer’s Guide to Solar Power in Mississippi.

In December 2015, the Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a groundbreaking rule allowing net metering in the state. Net metering is the process by which individual utility customers who use solar panels or other renewable energy generators can sell their excess power back to the power companies. The electricity produced by the customers using renewable energy generators can be placed on the electric grid to offset their power bill.

“Renewable energy including solar power can be beneficial to the environment while providing a costs savings for the consumer,” Attorney General Hood said. “It is critical to determine whether the investment for the renewal energy in a solar system is the right choice for your home or business. This guide offers tips and resources to help make that determination.”

The Attorney General’s Office is a member of the Mississippi Net Metering Working Group (Working Group), which was created under the new Order Adopting Net Metering Rule issued by the PSC. The Working Group is tasked with considering and addressing consumer protection and safety standards. The Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office developed the guide with input from the Working Group and multiple stakeholders. The guide is a product of an ongoing multisector effort to protect consumers in this new arena, and the office appreciates all of the feedback received.

“Our neighboring states have experienced problems with licensing of solar contractors, so we want to be sure our office provides help and guidance to consumers in our state when making decisions in their solar installation,” General Hood said. “We tried to do this by way of legislation, but because that was tied up in the Capitol, we have produced this guide as a resource.”

Adding solar panels to meet a home or business energy requirements may help reduce electric bills, contribute to saving the environment, and increase the value of the property. However, adding a solar power system to a property is a big decision, and consumers should understand the basics of solar energy, financing options, and which questions to ask the experts. It is also important to know what to ask when hiring an installer. For more information and for a copy of the guide, go to www.agjimhood.com.

Click here for a copy of the Consumer’s Guide to Solar Power in Mississippi.