Sex Offender Receives Second Sentence on Child Pornography Charges

March 12, 2018

Christopher Morgan, 27, of Bassfield, who recently got out of prison on a child exploitation sentence is headed back for another 40 years on more of the same charges. He was sentenced Friday in Jefferson Davis County Circuit Court on three counts of child exploitation—two counts for possession of child pornography and one count for distribution of child pornography.

A Jefferson Davis County man who recently got out of prison on a child exploitation sentence is headed back for another 40 years on more of the same charges, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Christopher Morgan, 27, of Bassfield, was sentenced Friday in Jefferson Davis County Circuit Court on three counts of child exploitation—two counts for possession of child pornography and one count for distribution of child pornography. On each count, Judge Prentiss Harrell sentenced Morgan to 40 years with 25 to serve and a $50,000 fine, which will all run concurrent.

Additionally, Morgan will serve the remaining 15 years of a 20 year sentence he received in 2010 on one count of child exploitation. When it was discovered that, upon his release from prison on that charge, Morgan was continuing to sexually exploit children, Forrest County Circuit Court Judge Bob Helfrich sentenced him to the remaining 15 years, which will be served prior to the 25 years he received Friday. Morgan must also continue to register as a sex offender.

An investigation by the attorney general’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force found that Morgan possessed hundreds of child pornography images on multiple devices, with victims ranging from pre-pubescent to preteen girls. He also shared a sexually explicit image in a chat room of a little girl who was a toddler.

“This guy went to prison for five years for child porn. When he got out with 15 years hanging over his head, we catch him doing the same activity again. Just like child molesters, many child porn perverts have to be managed for the remainder of their lives because their warped minds do not change,” said General Hood. “Now Judges Harrell and Helfrich made sure he will not exploit a child for the next 40 years.”

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


AG Hood Wants Restitution for Child Pornography Victims

March 6, 2018

 

“Victims of this disgusting crime should not be treated any differently when it comes to restitution, and perpetrators should not get off the hook,” said General Hood.

Attorney General Jim Hood joined 54 attorneys general today in calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to quickly pass the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2017 (S.2152), which would establish guidelines for restitution and ensure that victims receive timely and meaningful restitution.

Currently, a child pornography victim must pursue every case in which a defendant was found to possess that child’s image in order to receive restitution. Digital images of each child victim are trafficked worldwide, and there may be thousands of defendants found to possess each victim’s images. Further, victims may only receive a small amount of restitution in each case.

“Victims of this disgusting crime should not be treated any differently when it comes to restitution, and perpetrators should not get off the hook,” said General Hood. “Our office works hard to lock up the people who are exploiting our children, and the process should be completed with those victims being fairly compensated for the harm caused to them.”

The attorneys general sent a letter to House leadership, which reads, in part: “Preventing victims from collecting full restitution protects defendants, who are shielded from having to pay meaningful costs to those they have harmed… While nothing can undo the harm done to these victims by perpetrators who produce, share and views these images, Congress can act to make it easier for victims to receive meaningful restitution.”

The National Associations of Attorney General (NAAG) letter was sent today to House leadership as the U.S. Senate already passed the bill on January 23. NAAG previously supported similar legislation in 2014, which also passed the Senate, but not the House.


Community Shred Days Announced

March 2, 2018

Mississippians who need to shred sensitive documents should pack them up, as four cities across the state will soon hold the annual Community Shred Days.

Attorney General Jim Hood announced the 12th annual event, which is an opportunity for consumers to better protect themselves against identity theft. Shred Days coincides with National Consumer Protection Week.

The events will be held on March 9 in Jackson and Tupelo, March 16 in Hattiesburg, and March 17 in D’Iberville at the following locations:

Friday, March 9th

JACKSON
The Home Depot
6325 I-55 North
Starting at 7:30 am – 2:00 pm**
TUPELO
Wal-Mart Supercenter
3929 N. Gloster Street
Starting at 8:00 a.m. – noon**

Friday, March 16th

HATTIESBURG
Wal-Mart Supercenter
6072 US Hwy 98
Starting at 8:00 am – noon**
Saturday, March 17th
D’IBERVILLE
Wal-Mart Supercenter
3615 Sangani Boulevard
Starting at 8:00 am – noon**

**We will be onsite at each location’s start time until the truck at that location is full.

Participants may bring up to three bags or boxes of sensitive documents (paper only!) to be shredded at no charge. This service is first-come, first-served, and it is not open to businesses. A shredding truck will remain at each location until the truck is full or the scheduled end time, whichever occurs first.

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, as well as other documents that may contain sensitive material.

Additional partners include: AARP, BancorpSouth, Better Business Bureau, Brightview Federal Credit Union, Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, EPL Inc., Eagle Express Federal Credit Union, The Home Depot, Iron Mountain, Jackson Area Federal Credit Union, Members Exchange Credit Union, Mississippi Credit Union Association, Mississippi Federal Credit Union, Mississippi Public Service Commission, Mississippi State University Extension Service, North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, Premiere Shredding, Inc., Secretary of State’s Office, Statewide Federal Credit Union, Sunbelt Federal Credit Union, TAGMA, Triangle Federal Credit Union, 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, toll free at 1-800-281-4418, or by email at aginfo@ago.state.ms.us


AG Hood Joins Suit to Block Net Neutrality Rollback

February 23, 2018

Attorney General Jim Hood joined 22 attorneys general in filing a petition Thursday to formally commence their lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission’s illegal rollback of net neutrality. The coalition filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after the FCC published the final rule rolling back net neutrality in today’s Federal Register.

“The repeal of net neutrality would have dire consequences for consumers and businesses in Mississippi and across the country who rely on and have a right to a free and open internet,” said General Hood. “A repeal would allow internet service providers to control and slow down consumers’ lawful internet activity, which is unfair and un-American.”

As the Attorneys General will argue in their suit, under the Administrative Procedure Act the FCC cannot make “arbitrary and capricious” changes to existing policies, such as net neutrality. The FCC’s rule fails to justify the Commission’s departure from its long-standing policy and practice of defending net neutrality, while misinterpreting and disregarding critical record evidence on industry practices and harm to consumers and businesses. Moreover, the rule wrongly reclassifies broadband internet as a Title I information service, rather than a Title II telecommunications service, based on an erroneous and unreasonable interpretation of the Telecommunications Act. Finally, the rule improperly and unlawfully includes sweeping preemption of state and local laws.

Click here to read the petition. The lawsuit is led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and joined by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.


Brandon Man Arrested on Child Pornography Charge

February 22, 2018

 A 37-year-old man from Brandon was arrested today after being charged with one count of child exploitation for possessing child pornography, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Robert Donald Ehrhardt III was arrested at his home following an investigation of suspicious online activity. He was booked into the Rankin County jail awaiting his initial appearance.

If convicted, Ehrhardt faces up to 40 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. 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 Wayne Lynch with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance from the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department. It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


Fourth Suit Settled in Epps Scandal

February 22, 2018

Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that the State of Mississippi has settled its claims with CGL Facility Management, LLC for $750,000, as the fourth settlement in the MDOC prison bribery scandal. CGL provides facility management, project management, and corrective and preventative maintenance services to correctional facilities.

To date, the attorney general has recovered $6,550,000 on behalf of Mississippi taxpayers related to the MDOC prison scandal.

“As a company that continues to contract with the state, I am pleased with CGL for cooperating and quickly resolving this matter for $750,000 on a $1,565,000 contract,” said General Hood.  “We successfully disgorged CGL of a substantial portion of the value of their public contract.”

To date, the attorney general has recovered $6,550,000 on behalf of Mississippi taxpayers related to the MDOC prison scandal.

This settlement ends the fourth of 11 civil actions the attorney general filed on February 8, 2017, accusing 10 individuals and 12 out-of-state corporations of using alleged “consultants” as conduits to pay bribes and kickbacks to then-Commissioner Christopher Epps for the awarding and retention of MDOC contracts through a pattern of misrepresentations, fraud, concealment, and other wrongful conduct.


AG Sends $32 Million to the Legislature, Urges Mississippians to Tell Legislature: #LeaveOurAGAlone

February 21, 2018

Attorney General Jim Hood announced the fourth settlement of the civil suits in the MDOC-Christopher Epps prison bribery scandal and deposited $32.1 million into the state’s general fund Tuesday, in the midst of the Legislature attempting to strip his Constitutional authority to go after corporate wrongdoers. General Hood is calling on Mississippians to contact their lawmakers and say, “Leave our AG alone!”

A portion of the check includes another settlement in the Epps case for $750,000 from CGL Facility Management, LLC, which is a company that provides facility management, project management, and corrective and preventative maintenance services to correctional facilities. The CGL settlement is the fourth of 11 civil actions to be settled in the Epps bribery scandal, and Tuesday’s deposit included $3.9 million from those cases.

The largest portion of the check delivered Tuesday is $25.3 million from a recently announced settlement with Watson Pharmaceutical, which sold overpriced drugs to the state’s Medicaid program, costing taxpayers $7 million.

The money sent to the general fund covers 21 cases settled by the attorney general with the majority of those cases involving violations under the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act (MCPA). That act is what protects Mississippians from being taken advantage of by corporations who have lied to customers, inflated their prices, and allowed safety measures to go unenforced, among other things. A number of bills currently pending in the state Legislature would remove the power of the attorney general to take these wrongdoers to court, thus resulting in not only losing billions of dollars to the state but, more importantly, fewer protections for Mississippians.

“This isn’t kids’ games, and should not be dismissed as just partisan politics,” said General Hood. “This is a billion dollars of the people’s money.  The legislators driving these bills are attempting to give taxpayer money to corporations.  We don’t want to believe it, but you can see corporations writing our laws. This should shock the conscience of republicans and democrats alike. With a billion dollars on the line, no reasonable prosecutor would dismiss the possibility of bribes, kickbacks, and campaign contributions being offered.”

House Bills 1238 and 1177 and Senate Bill 2295 each attack the attorney general’s authority by attempting to weaken or remove the office’s prosecutorial authority, in various ways, by uprooting his ability to fight for Mississippians under the MCPA and without getting prior approval from other agencies. The following is a short description of what each bill would do and non-exhaustive examples of how previously settled or pending litigation would be affected if these laws were in place:

  • HB 1238
    • Allows entities regulated by state and federal agencies to claim they do not have to abide by the MCPA due to outside regulations
      • Litigation affected: opioid manufacturers, which are being investigated for allegedly misrepresenting drug benefits; pharmaceutical companies who overprice drugs (Watson); Volkswagen, for selling vehicles that circumvent federal and state emission standards; Equifax, Experian, and Transunion, which was an investigation into credit reporting agencies regarding misrepresentation of credit monitoring services, credit reports, and credit scores that lead to a settlement
    • SB 2295
      • Requires approval by the Public Service Commission for the AG to bring suit against utility companies
        • Litigation affected: pending Entergy case, where the utility company faces a $1.1 billion lawsuit for overcharging its customers by not purchasing the cheapest power to sell to consumers
      • HB 1177
        • Allows state agencies and private citizens to file suit and collect damages owed to the state
          • Litigation affected: Watson Pharmaceutical; if bill becomes law, Division of Medicaid—not the AG—would investigate and file suit

Many state agencies do not generally have resources needed to investigate and prosecute and could use different theories, that’s why the AG is tasked with representing the state

“If people are going to take action about something happening at the capitol, now is the time,” said General Hood. “These bills directly impact every Mississippian, and if they are signed into law, it would be devastating to everyone, including the people who are pushing this legislation. I was elected, just as other attorneys general before and after me, to protect you. I’m urging everyone to call their legislator to tell them to leave the AG’s office alone so that we can do our job protecting Mississippians as we have done long before I took office, and long after I leave.”

The number to the Capitol Switchboard is 601-359-3770, and constituents who wish to share the message on social media are asked to use #LeaveOurAGAlone


Gulfport Woman Arrested on Child Pornography Charge

February 14, 2018

Anika Moore, 21, of Gulfport, was arrested Tuesday on one count of child exploitation for possession of child pornography following an investigation into her suspicious online activity.

A 21-year-old woman from Gulfport was arrested Tuesday on one count of child exploitation for possession of child pornography, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Anika Moore was arrested at the Gulfport Police Department following an investigation into her suspicious online activity. If convicted, she faces up to 40 years in prison and between $50,000 and $500,000 in fines. 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 the AG’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance from the Gulfport Police Department. It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.