Attorney General Hosts Crime Victims’ Rights Week Awards Ceremony in Honor of Mississippi Crime Victims and Advocates

April 13, 2016
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In conjunction with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Attorney General Jim Hood on Tuesday hosted the crime victims’ rights awards ceremony honoring victims of crime and advocates for victims.

This year’s theme for the ceremony was, “Serving Victims, Building Trust, Restoring Hope”.  During the ceremony, awards were presented to leaders and volunteers who provide exemplary assistance and service to Mississippi crime victims. Attorney General Jim Hood and guest speaker Gov. Phil Bryant commended the efforts and dedication of those who work hard throughout the year to serve victims, survivors of violent crime and their families.

“This is a rewarding area of work and this is an opportunity for us to thank those who work with our victims in Mississippi on a daily basis,” Attorney General Hood said.

Attorney General Hood presented the Amy Clayton Justice Achievement Award to the Office of District Attorney Anthony “Tony” Lawrence III, of the 19th Judicial District (Jackson, George and Greene County).

“This office was nominated by the Gulf Coast Women’s Center for Nonviolence, but I would second that nomination in a heartbeat,” said Attorney General Hood. “Having been down there, seeing the energy in the people who work there and how they successfully protect victims every single day as well as recognizing them, I am proud to have presented this award to District Attorney Tony Lawrence and his staff.”

The Amy Clayton Victim Service Award was presented to Shalotta Sharp, who is employed as a Special Projects Coordinator with the Mississippi Coalition for Sexual Assault. The Amy Clayton Volunteer Service Award was presented to Linda Owens-Simpson, of Jackson, who is a volunteer for Catholic Charities.

The Bureau of Victim Assistance of the Office of the Attorney General presented two awards to Jeffrey A. Klingfuss, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Klingfuss is also a Special Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division. Sgt. Derrick Jordan, who has been with the Jackson Police Department for 15 years, received the Distinguished Service Award.

The Crime Victims Compensation Division, which is housed in the Bureau of Victim Assistance, received 1,169 requests for compensation last year. The Bureau works diligently throughout the year with law enforcement agencies, non-profit organizations and district attorneys’ offices statewide to increase the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, promote the fair and compassionate treatment of victims of crime, ensure victims are afforded their constitutional rights and considerations, and provide financial assistance for victims with losses resulting from injuries or death.

“All of our victim assistant coordinators and volunteers, state agencies, district attorneys’ offices, law enforcement agencies and non-profit organizations work together as a unit,” said Attorney General Hood. “We have a place here, a central hub in Jackson, for all of us to gather and recognize the heartache that many of our victims and families go through, and we are able to share a human touch with victims as we do our best to help them.”

For more information on the services provided by the Bureau of Victim Assistance, please call (800) 829-6766 or (601) 359-6766 or visit www.agjimhood.com.

This year’s ceremony was made possible through partnership with the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Mississippi Coalition for Survivors of Homicide, Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Mississippi Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

 


U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Dismisses Google’s Federal Lawsuit against Attorney General Jim Hood

April 11, 2016
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit dismissed Google’s federal lawsuit Friday against Attorney General Jim Hood, filed after the Attorney General issued an administrative subpoena to the company seeking information about whether its conduct or policies violated Mississippi state law. The court also lifted an injunction on Friday that was put in place by a lower court last year that had prevented Attorney General Hood from seeking to enforce the subpoena.

The appeals court turned back an attempt by Google Inc. to use the federal court system to block Attorney General Jim Hood’s investigation of the Internet giant’s business practices.

“The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals clearly saw through Google’s attempt to misuse the federal courts in an effort to obstruct a sovereign state’s investigation into state-law matters,” Attorney General Hood said. “It should be a concern of every American citizen when a corporation tries such a brazen end-run around state law. I am grateful for the court’s ruling on an issue important to protecting children and families in Mississippi and across the country.”

Google’s 2015 revenues were $74.5 billion, which is higher than the annual GDPs of all but about 65 countries, and some states such as North and South Dakota, Maine and West Virginia.  Also, Fortune 500 ranked Apple and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, first and second in terms of market value in 2015.

Google is ranked as having the world’s third most valuable brand. The company earns an estimated $115,000 in revenue every minute, converting more than $23,000 of that into profit. It is the world’s most popular search engine. With that wealth and power comes tremendous responsibility.

Attorney General Hood initially raised concerns about Google’s practices more than three years ago, alleging that it was too simple for consumers to buy counterfeit goods, purchase illegal drugs or view copyrighted materials by using the company’s web platforms.

In October 2014, the Attorney General issued an administrative subpoena to Google, seeking information about Google’s platforms, its advertising, and its efforts to protect consumers against illegal content. The Attorney General’s Office offered to work with Google regarding what documents the company would provide, how they would be provided and when they would provide them. But just a short time later, the company filed its lawsuit and sought the injunction.

The appeals court determined that the district judge erred in issuing the injunction due to the lack of proof of irreparable injury, one of the four fundamental elements for issuing an injunction.

The Fifth Circuit’s dismissal of Google’s lawsuit takes place at a time when Google is drawing attention from other state Attorneys General for possibly manipulating search results to the detriment of consumers.  In February, the attorneys general of Utah and the District of Columbia asked the Federal Trade Commission to consider reopening an antitrust investigation of Google.  Those Attorneys General cited the European Union’s recent antitrust charges against the company as a reason to renew an FTC inquiry.

“My investigators have determined that Google has made some progress as a result of our inquiry and cleaned up some of the autocomplete functions and advertising related to drug sales,” Attorney General Hood said. “We also have concerns about issues involving data mining of children’s information and search results manipulation.”

Attorney General Hood also thanked a bipartisan group of 40 attorneys general from across the country that supported his appeal. His colleagues filed an amicus curiae brief with the Fifth Circuit that backed Mississippi’s position in the case.

“As I have said many times, there is no federal agency assigned to policing the Internet,” Attorney General Hood said. “Protecting families from the dangers of the Internet has been the responsibility of attorneys general. I thank my 40 fellow attorneys general in supporting the dismissal of this case.”

The Attorney General’s Office will evaluate how to proceed with the investigation once an order of dismissal is entered by the district court.

“As an attorney general with a duty to protect families, it is of grave concern to me when the top two corporations standing in the world today, Google and Apple, refuse to help American citizens protect their children,” Attorney General Hood said. “When conspiracy theorists talk about Big Brother, it is no longer the federal government, it is companies such as Google, which have access to more personal information about us than any entity in history has ever assembled.”

 


Wesson Resident Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

April 8, 2016
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Joseph Freeman, 54, of Wesson, has been arrested and charged with three counts of child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Freeman was arrested late Thursday by investigators of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department. 

A joint investigation uncovered that Freeman was in possession of three pieces of electronic media which contained child sexual exploitation videos.

Freeman was booked into the Lincoln County Jail to await his initial appearance.  No bond has been set at this time.  If convicted, he faces up to 40 years behind bars per count.  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 will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.

 


Former Moss Point Caregiver Going to Prison for Felony Exploitation of a Vulnerable Person and Forgery

April 8, 2016
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Patricia Joy Harris, 32, of Moss Point, is going to prison after pleading guilty to felony exploitation of a vulnerable person and forgery, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Harris appeared before George County Circuit Court Judge Kathy King Jackson Thursday for sentencing after pleading guilty to one count of Felony Exploitation of a Vulnerable Person and one count of Uttering a Forgery.  Judge Jackson sentenced Harris to 10 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for Felony Exploitation of a Vulnerable Person and five years for Uttering a Forgery, to run concurrently, with five years to serve and five years suspended followed by five years to serve post-release supervision.  Additionally, Judge Jackson ordered Harris to pay $36,112.76 in restitution, $750 in fines, $500 to the Victims Compensation Fund and court costs.

The crimes occurred between April 15, 2014 and September 11, 2014 when Harris served as a caregiver to a 79-year-old resident at a personal care home in Lucedale.  During this time, Harris wrote 19 fraudulent checks on the victim’s bank account and made 49 fraudulent charges to his credit card.

“Taking money from a vulnerable person in our state is reprehensible.  If you are caught committing such a crime, you will serve time and pay up,” said Attorney General Hood. “I thank Judge King for sentencing this woman to prison for this crime and holding this woman liable for paying back everything she took from the victim.” 

The case was investigated by Kelly Edgar of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the George County Sheriff’s Department.  Prosecution of the case was handled by Special Assistant Attorney General Kathy Blackwell Parker.

 


Magee Resident Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

April 7, 2016
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Job Michael Craft, 40, of Magee, has been arrested and charged with one count of child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Craft was arrested today at his mother’s residence in Mount Olive by investigators of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance of the Covington County Sheriff’s Office and the Mount Olive Police Department. A joint investigation uncovered that Craft was in possession of child sexual exploitation videos and images.

Craft was booked into the Covington County Jail.  No bond has been set at this time. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years behind bars.  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 will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit.

 


Picayune Man Arrested for Production and Possession of Child Pornography and Sexual Battery

April 7, 2016
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David Owens, 39, of Picayune, has been arrested and charged with production and possession of child pornography and sexual battery of a child, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Owens was arrested late Wednesday evening at his home by investigators of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance of the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Office and the Picayune Police Department.

It was discovered Owens was in possession of child sexual exploitation videos and photos. Additionally, Owens was found to be producing child exploitation material and sexually abusing a 7-year-old child.

Owens was booked into the Pearl River County Jail with no bond set awaiting his initial appearance. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years per count for production and possession of child pornography and 30 years for sexual battery of a child. 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.

  

 


Cleveland Resident Arrested for Wire and Computer Fraud

April 6, 2016
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Farrah Randle, 34, of Cleveland, has been arrested for a wire and computer fraud  scheme to acquire approximately $54,000 in refunds from the Department of Revenue by filing false payments, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Randle turned herself in to authorities Monday following an indictment by a Bolivar County Grand Jury on one count of computer fraud and one count of wire fraud.  The indictment alleges Randle accessed the Mississippi Department of Revenue’s (MDOR’s) Taxpayer Access Point (TAP) and provided fraudulent payments thru TAP resulting in her receiving refunds that she should not have received.  Additionally, Randle devised a scheme to obtain money and transmitted fake payments to defraud the MDOR’s TAP system in Hinds County.

Randle was booked into the Bolivar County Jail and released after posting a bond totaling $5,000.  If convicted of computer fraud, Randle faces up to 20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. In addition, Randle faces up to five years and a $10,000 fine for wire fraud.  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 was investigated by Kyle Wilson, of the Mississippi Department of Revenue, and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.

 


Collinsville Man Going to Prison for DUI Death of 14-year-old

April 6, 2016
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Mitchell James Roberts, 24, of Collinsville, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for DUI manslaughter involving the death of a 14-year-old, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Roberts was sentenced today by Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Lester Williamson, Jr. on one count of DUI manslaughter.  Judge Williamson sentenced Roberts to 25 years in custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, 18 years to serve, and seven years suspended followed by five years to serve post-release supervision. Additionally, Judge Williamson ordered Roberts to pay $10,000 in fines and restitution.

The wreck happened July 13, 2013, when Roberts, while under the influence of Xanax, drove across two lanes of traffic and struck a vehicle head-on which was occupied by Arnold Aultman, Sr., and 14-year-old Arnold Aultman, Jr.  Aultman, Jr. died as a result of the wreck.  Roberts did not have a prescription for the Xanax. He was using the drug for recreational purposes and he has two previous convictions for DUI.

The case was investigated by the Meridian Police Department with assistance by Crystal Tillman and Michael Wade of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division. Prosecution of the case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander and Special Assistant Attorney General Molly Miller at the request of District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the victim’s family,” said Attorney General Jim Hood.  “We greatly appreciate the work of the Meridian Police Department and Judge Williamson’s solid sentence.”