Brandon Resident Going to Prison for Child Exploitation

May 11, 2015

A Brandon resident is going to prison for child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Justin Lee Goldsmith, 20, of Brandon, appeared before Rankin County Circuit Court Judge William E. Chapman today where he entered an open plea of guilty to one count of child exploitation. An open plea means the defendant refuses to accept the state’s recommendation and instead throws himself at the mercy of the court. As a result, Judge Chapman sentenced Goldsmith to 40 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years to serve. He also received five years of probation, must pay $1,000 to the children’s trust fund and must register as a sex offender upon release.

Goldsmith was arrested by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit following a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that the defendant had been uploading images of child pornography to his Tumbler account using the screen name “incestisbest123”.

“We thank Judge Chapman for helping us put another child predator behind bars,” said Attorney General Hood. “We are hot on the trail of many others that we intend to see the same fate.”


Fulton Resident Going to Prison for Child Exploitation

May 8, 2015
Download PDF

A Fulton resident is going to prison for child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

James Mark House, 47, of Fulton entered an open plea of guilty Thursday, before Circuit Court Judge Paul Funderburk, to two counts of child exploitation after being found in possession of child pornography.

The Judge sentenced House to 40 years with 35 years suspended leaving five years to serve with five years of post-release supervision. He was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and a $1,000 assessment to the children’s trust fund. He must also register as a sex offender.

“This case originated from a cyber-tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children where it was reported that someone had uploaded child pornography to a Tumblr account,” said Attorney General Hood.

The case was handled by the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit with prosecution handled by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


Houston Resident Arrested for Sexual Battery

May 7, 2015
Download PDF

A Houston resident has been arrested and charged with sexual battery of a vulnerable person, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Alshunte Bowen, age 34, turned himself in to authorities Thursday at the Pontotoc County jail after a Pontotoc County Grand Jury returned an indictment on the case being prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.  The Grand Jury indicted Bowen on one count of Sexual Battery by someone in a position of trust.  The indictment alleges that, within a period of time in May 2014, Bowen engaged in sexual penetration with a fourteen year old female patient at a psychiatric treatment facility for adolescents in Pontotoc, where Bowen was employed as a Unit Coordinator.

Following his arrest, Bowen was allowed to post a $50,000 property bond.  His arraignment is scheduled for May 8th at 9:00 a.m.

If convicted of the charges against him, Bowen faces up to 30 years behind bars.  As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Fifth Annual Candlelight Vigil Honors Mississippi’s Fallen Law Enforcement Officers

May 7, 2015
Download PDF

Attorney General Jim Hood and the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police join together to host the state’s fifth annual “Mississippi Fallen Law Enforcement Officer’s Candlelight Vigil”.  The event will be held Tuesday, May 12 at 6:30 p.m.  at the Mississippi Fallen Officers Memorial between the Sillers and Gartin Justice buildings off High Street in downtown Jackson.

We are planning to have it AT the memorial site as forecasts show the rain will likely be minor or moved on by 6:30pm.  We suggest bringing an umbrella or rain coat just in case. 

“We began this ceremony five years ago following the creation of the memorial wall,” said Attorney General Hood.  “If you haven’t had a chance to visit the memorial, this is a great opportunity to do so and to honor our state’s fallen officers.  Since we last held this ceremony, Mississippi has lost seven heroes in the line of duty, two in 2014 and five in 2015. There are another 227 names on the memorial.”

Mississippi’s most recently fallen officers are: 

John Thomas Collum       May 9, 2014                    Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks

John Robert Street          December 16, 2014          George Co. S.O.

John Ballard Gorman       January 21, 2015             Mississippi Gaming Commission

Johnny Gatson                March 10, 2015               Warren Co. S.O.

Josie Wells                     March 10, 2015                United States Marshals Service

Liquori Tate                     May 9, 2015                    Hattiesburg Police Department

Benjamin Deen                May 9, 2015                    Hattiesburg Police Department

“This vigil is a chance to come together and remember our fallen comrades and to pray for the safety of all our state’s law enforcement officers as they serve and protect,” said Ken Winter, Executive Director of the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police.

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, the Mississippi Sheriffs Association, the Mississippi  Highway Patrol, the Mississippi Wildlife and Fisheries Department, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office at the event.


Collins Resident Arrested for Child Exploitation

May 5, 2015

A Collins man has been arrested for child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Kenneth Cooper, 29, of Collins was arrested at his home last night 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.  Cooper is charged with one count of Exploitation of a Child for allegedly being in possession of child porn.  He is being held without bond at the Covington County Jail pending an initial appearance in Covington County Justice Court.

If convicted of the charges, Cooper faces up to 40 years behind bars.  As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Wisconsin Woman Arrested for Felony Exploitation of Vulnerable Person

April 24, 2015
Download PDF

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

Jessica Hardy, 23, of Beloit, Wisconsin, was arrested today by the Beloit police department in Wisconsin following an indictment by the Lee County Grand Jury on one count felony exploitation of a vulnerable person. Hardy is awaiting extradition Mississippi.

The defendant is accused in the indictment of making a patient’s pre-signed check payable to herself for $500 while employed as a certified nursing aide at an assisted living and retirement community in Tupelo.

If convicted, Hardy faces up to 10 years behind bars.  As with all cases, the charges are merely accusations and 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.


Attorney General Jim Hood Files Suit Against State Farm for Alleged Katrina Scheme involving “Homeowner Assistance Program”

April 21, 2015
Download PDF

Attorney General Jim Hood filed suit today against State Farm Fire and Casualty Company in the Circuit Court of Hinds County. The lawsuit seeks to recover damages for losses that the State of Mississippi suffered as a result of an alleged scheme by State Farm to mischaracterize wind damage as flood damage when adjusting the homeowner insurance claims of thousands of Mississippians in the
wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Mississippi established the Homeowner Assistance Program (“HAP”) after Katrina to provide financial assistance to Mississippi homeowners whose insurance did not fully cover the massive damage caused by the storm. Attorney General Hood alleges in the lawsuit that State Farm systematically mischaracterized Katrina wind damage (which its policies covered) as flood damage (which its policies did not cover), improperly minimizing its own financial burden and forcing that burden instead on to HAP. In doing so, State Farm caused Mississippi to pay hundreds of millions of dollars that the State otherwise could have allotted to other recovery efforts. Because homeowners who received funds from HAP subrogated their equivalent insurance claims to Mississippi, any funds recovered as a result of the lawsuit will be returned to the State.

“The Mississippi Homeowner Assistance Program was set up to pay homeowners for Hurricane Katrina damage that was not covered by insurance,” said Attorney General Hood. “State Farm took advantage of our program by causing HAP to pay for wind losses that State Farm should have covered under its homeowner policies. Remarkably, State Farm and other insurers walked away from Hurricane Katrina and experienced record profits in the years following, while Mississippi continues to suffer.”

The lawsuit highlights State Farm’s coercion of engineering firms to change their reports to conclude that (uninsured) flooding caused Hurricane Katrina damage. In a bellwether trial in 2013, a unanimous federal jury found that State Farm defrauded the U.S. government when it coerced an engineering firm to change a damage report in exactly this way. United States ex rel. Rigsby v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., No. 1:06-CV-433-HSO-RRH (S.D. Miss. Feb. 21, 2014), ECF No. 1129. Similar allegations involving improperly changed engineering reports have arisen in recent months in connection with the adjustment of insurance claims related to Hurricane Sandy.


Canton Resident Going to Prison for Aggravated Assault

April 17, 2015
Download PDF

A Canton man is going to prison for aggravated assault, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Fredrick Smith Jr., 21, of Canton, was sentenced today by Hinds County Circuit Court Judge William Gowan on two charges of aggravated assault, to which Smith was found guilty by a jury.  The defendant was sentenced to 20 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections on the first count, with 15 years to serve and five years suspended.  Judge Gowan sentenced Smith to 20 years, with 15 years to serve, five years suspended and five years of post-release supervision on the second count. Both sentences will run concurrently, meaning Smith will serve a total of 15 years behind bars.

The investigation showed that Smith was one of three people who fired upon two people while they patronizing the Gas Stop Store in Jackson. The shooters were aiming at one victim when the other victim was caught in the line of fire and shot three times.  Both victims survived the shooting.  The other two defendants are awaiting trial.

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