AG Announces Upcoming 11th Annual Community Shred Days

March 1, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood will host the 11th annual Community Shred Days next week in Jackson, Hattiesburg and D’Iberville.  Attorney General Hood encourages Mississippi consumers to take advantage of an opportunity to better protect themselves from becoming victims of identity theft.

The Attorney General’s Office and partner organizations will be in Jackson and Hattiesburg on Friday, March 10, and in D’Iberville on Saturday, March 11. The annual event coincides with National Consumer Protection Week.

“Identity theft is a widespread and serious crime. It is vitally important to destroy documents that contain any information that would make it easy for a criminal to steal your identity such as Social Security numbers, account numbers or other sensitive data,” Attorney General Hood said. “Shred days are intended to raise community awareness to the risks of identity theft and to provide Mississippians free access to document shredding.”

Mississippi consumers may bring up to three bags or boxes of documents to be shredded at no charge. Shredding will be provided by Iron Mountain and Premiere shredding companies. This is a consumer service, and is first-come, first-served.  Businesses are not eligible. A shredding truck will remain at each location until the truck is full or the scheduled end time, whichever occurs first.

Specific statewide locations are:

 

Friday, March 10th

Saturday, March 11th

JACKSON

The Home Depot

6325 I-55 North

Starting at 7:30 am – 2:00 pm**

D’IBERVILLE

Wal-Mart Supercenter

3615 Sangani Blvd.

Starting at 8:00 am – noon**

HATTIESBURG

Wal-Mart Supercenter

6072 US Hwy 98

Starting at 8:00 am – noon**

 

**We will be onsite at each location’s starting times until the truck is full at that specific location.

 

Attorney General Hood reminds consumers that simple things, such as taking out the garbage, can expose them to identity theft. Consumers should shred receipts, pre-approved credit offers or convenience checks that haven’t been used. Identity thieves won’t hesitate for a second to rummage through the trash.

“Since we began this partnership, we have helped Mississippi consumers shred over 511,350 pounds of paper containing personal information,” said Attorney General Hood. “We are committed to protecting Mississippians by continuing to prevent identity theft before it occurs, and we have no doubt this partnership and the hard work of our volunteers have saved many Mississippians from becoming victims of crime.”

Additional partners include:  AARP, BancorpSouth, Better Business Bureau, Brightview Federal Credit Union, Center for Justice, Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, Eagle Express Federal Credit Union, The Home Depot, Iron Mountain, Jackson Area Federal Credit Union, The Leadership Council on Aging, Members Exchange Credit Union, Mississippi Credit Union Association, Mississippi Department of Human Services Division of Aging and Adult Services, Mississippi Federal Credit Union, Mississippi Public Service Commission, Mississippi State University Extension Service, Money Management International, Premiere Shredding, Inc., Secretary of State’s Office, Statewide Federal Credit Union, Sunbelt Federal Credit Union, TAGMA, Trustmark Bank, Wal-Mart, and other Mississippi Consumer Partnership members.

For more information about the event or about protecting your identity, visit www.agjimhood.com.  Any questions or concerns can be addressed by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 601-359-4230 or toll free at 1-800-281-4418.


Clarke County Resident Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

March 1, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Clarke County resident has been arrested and charged with two counts of child exploitation.

Andrew Phillip Smith, 30, was arrested at his home Tuesday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit with assistance from the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators executed a search warrant following an investigation of Smith’s online activity. As a result of the search warrant, he was arrested.

Smith was booked into the Clarke County Jail with a bond set at $50,000. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for each count. As with all cases, 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 will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.


Harrison County Resident Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

February 17, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Saucier man has been arrested and charged with three counts of child exploitation.

Michael Joseph Gennaro, Jr., 30, was arrested late Thursday in Ocean Springs by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit with assistance from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Ocean Springs Police Department and the Gulf Coast Cybercrime Taskforce.

Investigators executed a search warrant following an investigation of Gennaro’s online activity. As a result of the search warrant, he was arrested.

Gennaro was booked into the Jackson County Detention Center with no bond set. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for each count. As with all cases, 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 will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.

 


Jackson Resident Going to Prison for Aggravated Assault and Armed Robbery

February 17, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Jackson man is going to prison for aggravated assault and armed robbery.

Antonio Liddell, 32, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of aggravated assault and five counts of armed robbery. Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Weill sentenced Liddell to a total of 23 years in prison, with five of those years suspended, leaving 18 years to serve, followed by five years of post-release supervision. Liddell must serve his sentence day-for-day without the possibility of parole.

On April 24, 2014, Liddell attempted to cause serious injury to JPD officers while he was being apprehended for the armed robbery of another man who was working at a gas station in Jackson. Later that year, Liddell robbed four victims at gunpoint in front of the MS Rubber Company in Jackson.

“This individual showed disregard for our law enforcement officers and his fellow citizens with his dangerous actions, and I appreciate the strong sentence handed down by Judge Weill,” Attorney General Hood said. “I’d also like to thank Jackson Police Chief Lee Vance and his officers for their assistance on this case and for their continuous efforts to protect the lives of the citizens in the Jackson community every day.”

The case was investigated by Miller Faulk of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division with assistance by the Jackson Police Department. Prosecution was handled by Special Assistant Attorneys General Patrick E. Beasley and Lakeita Rox-Love.


Consumer Alert: AG Hood Warns Workers to be Wary of W-2 Scam

February 16, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood warned Mississippi taxpayers today that scammers are targeting a wide range of organizations attempting to collect W-2 data that can in turn be used to file fraudulent tax returns.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, scammers are now combining two common scams into one. First, the criminals will send an email to an employee in HR that initially appears to be from the company CEO or another corporate executive, asking for copies of the W-2 forms of all employees. Next, they follow up with an urgent request to transfer a large sum of money to a bank account controlled by these cyber criminals.

Attorney General Hood urged Mississippi residents to remember that when they receive sudden or unexpected requests like this from someone in authority at their workplace, they may be spoofed emails.  Employees should always verify by phone that this is a legitimate request coming from that executive.

“We have received calls and reports to our office this week from entities whose employees have fallen for this type of scam,” Attorney General Hood said. “Employees who would have W2 information, such as accounting or human resources personnel, are particularly susceptible to this scam. All types of organizations are possible targets, including schools, healthcare organizations, nonprofits, and private businesses.”

According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, tax refund fraud increased by nearly 50 percent in 2015. This year, the IRS has warned that criminals have started tax refund scams much earlier than in previous years.

Consumers who are not required to file a return and those who are not actually due a refund from the IRS can still be victims of refund fraud. The best way to avoid becoming a victim of tax refund fraud is to file your taxes as soon as possible, before the fraudsters can. 

Consumers who need to report information about a phishing scam or any tax-related scam should contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office at (800) 281-4418.


Philadelphia Man going to Prison for Child Exploitation

February 13, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Philadelphia resident is going to prison for child exploitation.

Edwin Jay Bradford, 43, pleaded guilty today in Scott County Circuit Court to one count of child exploitation. Judge Christopher A. Collins sentenced Bradford to 40 years in prison with 30 of those years suspended, leaving 10 years to serve. Bradford was ordered to pay $1,000 to the Mississippi Children’s Trust Fund and $1,000 to the Mississippi Crime Victim Compensation Fund. He must register as a sex offender.

Bradford was arrested last August in Forest by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit with assistance of the Scott County Sheriff’s Office and the Sebastopol Police Department. An investigation revealed that at the time of his arrest, he was traveling to meet a 14-year-old girl in Forest that he had been communicating with online for the purpose of engaging in sexual explicit conduct.

“When criminals take to the internet with the intent to exploit our children, one of the best technological tools of our time can turn into one of the most dangerous,” Attorney General Hood said. “The internet opens the door for predators like this defendant to take advantage of our children, and we must remain vigilant to protect our kids from harm,” Attorney General Hood said. “We appreciate the hard work and commitment of our federal, state and local law enforcement agencies for working to capture these criminals. I’d also like to thank Judge Collins for giving this defendant time to serve in prison, where he will be unable to further prey upon kids.”

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


AG JIM HOOD FILES CIVIL RICO ACTION TO RECOUP STATE FUNDS AND PENALTIES AGAINST ALL CONSPIRATORS IN MDOC PRISON BRIBERY SCANDAL

February 8, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that he has filed 11 civil RICO lawsuits against all corporate and individual conspirators in the prison bribery scandal.

Attorney General Hood is seeking damages and punitive damages against the following individuals and corporations:  former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps; Cecil McCrory; Robert Simmons; Irb Benjamin; Sam Waggoner; Mark Longoria; Teresa Malone; Carl Reddix; Michael Reddix; Andrew Jenkins; Management & Training Corporation; The GEO Group, Inc.; Cornell Companies, Inc.; Wexford Health Sources, Inc.; The Bantry Group Corporation; AdminPros, L.L.C.; CGL Facility Management, LLC; Mississippi Correctional Management, Inc.; Branan Medical Corporation; Drug Testing Corporation; Global Tel*Link Corporation; Health Assurance, LLC; Keefe Commissary Network, LLC; Sentinel Offender Services, L.L.C. and AJA Management & Technical Services, Inc.

“The state of Mississippi has been defrauded through a pattern of bribery, kickbacks, misrepresentations, fraud, concealment, money laundering and other wrongful conduct,” Attorney General Hood said. “These individuals and corporations that benefited by stealing from taxpayers must not only pay the state’s losses, but state law requires that they must also forfeit and return the entire amount of the contracts paid by the state.  We are also seeking punitive damages to punish these conspirators and to deter those who might consider giving or receiving kickbacks in the future.”

According to the lawsuits, multiple corporations, including some of the most prominent private prison contractors, paid millions of dollars in so-called “consulting fees” to individuals who then used those fees to pay bribes and kickbacks to Epps. Based on those bribes and kickbacks, Epps awarded, directed or extended approximately $800 million in public contracts to those private prison contractors.

To date, Epps, McCrory, Simmons, Benjamin, Waggoner and Longoria have pleaded guilty to their involvement in the conspiracy.

Attorney General Hood alleges that the defendants violated Mississippi’s public ethics, racketeering and antitrust laws, along with several other claims. The Attorney General is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as forfeiture of all funds received by the individuals and corporations that were involved in these conspiracies.

“Out-of-state corporations were eager to take advantage of Mississippi taxpayers and secure MDOC contracts through bribery and fraud. It is critical for the state to use the remedies at its disposal to recover damages and get back the money exchanged in these schemes,” Attorney General Hood said. “I have a duty to protect the integrity of the public contracting process, as well as to vindicate the rights of the state when it is a victim of public corruption and other wrongful conduct.”

Copies of the complaints:

Epps Drug Testing Filed Complaint

Epps Adminpros Filed Complaint

Epps GEO Filed Complaint

Epps Keefe Filed Complaint

Epps Management and Training Corp Filed Complaint

Epps Wexford Health Filed Complaint

Epps Sentinel Filed Complaint

Epps Health Assurance Filed Complaint

Epps Global Tel Link Filed Complaint

Epps CGL Filed Complaint

Epps AJA Management Filed Complaint


Lawrence County Resident Faces Charge for Felony Embezzlement

February 7, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Lawrence County man has been arrested for one count of felony embezzlement after being accused of failing to finish a construction job that he was paid to do.

Kenneth Douglas Platt, 51, was arrested Thursday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. Platt was indicted by a Stone County grand jury in January. He was booked into the Stone County Correctional Facility and released on a $20,000 bond.

Platt is accused of accepting more than $115,000 toward contracting work for a construction job for a homeowner in Lumberton. Platt allegedly paid only a small percentage of this amount toward the delivery of materials to the construction site. He is accused of not completing any work and converting to his own use the money he received for the construction job.

The maximum sentence for embezzlement is 10 years in prison or a fine of $1,000. As with all cases, a charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case is being investigated by Shannon Beaver and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Mark Ward of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.