Hazlehurst Resident Arrested for Insurance Fraud

August 31, 2017

Joyce Corley, 57, of Hazlehurst

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of a Hazlehurst woman charged with one count of insurance fraud.

Joyce Corley, 57, turned herself in to the Madison County Sheriff’s Department Wednesday following her indictment by a Madison County grand jury. Corley is accused of presenting an altered Explanation of Benefits to Southern Administrators and Benefit Consultants, Inc., of Ridgeland, in order to be reimbursed for medical expenses for which she had already received reimbursement. Her bond was set at $5,000.

If convicted, Corley faces up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. 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 Jerry Spell with the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau with assistance from the Madison County Sheriff’s Department. Special Assistant Attorney General Robert G. (“Bob”) Anderson will prosecute the case.


Two Arrested in Multi-Agency Effort

August 30, 2017

Mike Rushing, 58

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of two men in a multi-agency effort.

Kenneth Paul Rushing, 56, of Morton, and Michael Gene Rushing, 58, of Jackson, were arrested Wednesday afternoon at Wholesale Auto Parts on Gallatin Street in Jackson. The pair was arrested following a search warrant executed by the Attorney General’s Office after the Drug Enforcement Administration began a narcotic investigation into the men last month. The two men are each charged with felony counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, possession of cocaine, and Paul Rushing is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. 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.

Paul Rushing, 56

DEA began the investigation as a drug diversion investigation, which led them to human trafficking and child pornography. DEA then asked for assistance from multiple agencies, including the AG’s office, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Brandon Police Department, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Mississippi Department of Corrections, Crystal Springs Police Department, and Hinds County Sheriff’s Department. Investigator Sheila Tucker with the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office also assisted in the investigation.

The men were booked into the Hinds County Jail pending initial appearance.

The Bureau of Victim Assistance, Cyber Crime, and Public Integrity Divisions of the AG’s office were involved in this case.


Benoit Police Chief Arrested for Aggravated Assault

August 29, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of Billie Earl Williams, who is charged with one count of aggravated assault.

Williams, 55, was arrested Tuesday morning after turning himself in to the Bolivar County Sheriff’s Department and released on his own recognizance. He was indicted by a Bolivar County Grand Jury for shooting a suspect while acting as police chief on January 2. The indictment states Williams attempted to or did cause harm to the suspect, “manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life” by firing a pistol and striking the suspect in the back of the right leg.

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 Mississippi Bureau of Investigations and will be prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander with the Attorney General’s Office due to a conflict of interested by the local District Attorney.


Brookhaven Man Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

August 25, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of 57-year-old Danny Carlisle, who is charged with one count of child exploitation.

Carlisle, of Brookhaven, was arrested at his home Thursday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit. Following an investigation of suspicious online activity, investigators executed a search warrant at Carlisle’s home. He was arrested following the search and transported to the Lincoln County Detention Center.

If convicted, Carlisle faces up to 40 years in prison. 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 Mississippi Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and it will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


Hazlehurst Man Arrested for Possession of Child Pornography

August 24, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of 24-year-old Nicholas Whittington, who is charged with one count of child exploitation.

Whittington, of Hazlehurst, was arrested at his home Wednesday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit, with assistance from the Copiah County Sheriff’s Office. Following an investigation of suspicious online activity, investigators executed a search warrant at Whittington’s home. He was arrested following the search and transported to the Copiah County Detention Center.

If convicted, Whittington faces up to 40 years in prison. 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 Mississippi Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and it will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


Three Arrested on Coast for Insurance Fraud, Conspiracy

August 23, 2017

Michelle Renee Diaz

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrests of three Coast residents charged with insurance fraud, false pretense, and conspiracy.

At various times this month, Michelle Renee Diaz, 44, Monnie Villarreal, 46, and Scott Walker, 47, were arrested on a four-count indictment by investigators with the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau and booked into the Jackson County Adult Detention Center. The trio was indicted by the Jackson County Grand Jury after an investigation found they were using a fake certificate of liability insurance to obtain a contract of employment with an individual, profiting more than $500.

Monnie Villarreal

Diaz, Villarreal, and Walker are each charged with one count of insurance fraud, one count of false pretense, and two felony counts of conspiracy. If convicted on all counts, they face up to 23 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. A charge is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Diaz and Villarreal, both of Moss Point, were arrested in Pascagoula on August 8, with the assistance of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. Walker, who has dual residency in Moss Point and Hitchcock, Texas, was arrested in Moss Point on August 17, with the assistance of the Moss Point Police Department.

Scott Walker

This case was investigated by Michael Stevens with the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau  and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Steven Waldrup with the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.

 


Woman Arrested for Faking Workers’ Compensation

August 17, 2017

Today, Attorney General Jim Hood announced the arrest of a woman who submitted a false insurance claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

Letticia Valerie White, 39, of Brookhaven, was arrested in Hazlehurst Tuesday by Investigator Michael Stevens with the Attorney General’s Insurance Integrity Enforcement Bureau. White was charged with one count false pretense after being indicted by the Claiborne County Grand Jury for failing to disclose a knee injury and treatment, which occurred approximately two weeks prior to the date she submitted a workers’ compensation claim alleging she injured her knee at work. The indictment alleges she obtained more than $500 from New Hampshire Insurance Company by making these false claims.

White was booked into the Claiborne County Jail with bond set at $5,000 after her arraignment Thursday. The Copiah County Sheriff’s Office assisted in her arrest.

If convicted, White faces up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. A charge is merely an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by Stevens and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Robert “Bob” Anderson with the AG’s Public Integrity Division.


AG Hood Joins 49 Attorneys General to Ask Congress to Amend Sex Trafficking Law

August 16, 2017

Attorney General Jim Hood joined 49 other state and territorial attorneys general in a bi-partisan coalition urging Congress to affirm that all law-enforcement agencies retain their traditional authority to fight sex trafficking, including online.

In a letter to Congress, the attorneys general ask Members to amend the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which was designed to encourage the growth of the internet by promoting free expression, particularly on online message boards. However, while the bill intended to allow companies who sponsor message boards to remain immune to repercussions from inappropriate posts, the bill instead opens the door for corporations to make money off of dangerous posts through advertisements without an obligation to remove the content. According to the attorneys general, the CDA is being used as a shield by those who profit from prostitution and crimes against children. In some cases, courts have interpreted certain provisions of the CDA to provide immunity from state prosecution to online classified ad sites, such as backpage.com, which promote and profit from human trafficking.

“I’m asking Congress to remove any language that grants immunity to huge international corporations like backpage.com, for the sake of protecting the millions of people who are harmed and taken advantage of by these sites,” said General Hood. “While the immunity granted through this bill had good intentions, this site and many other corporations, such as Google, began to make money off of advertising on these boards and refused to prevent their boards from being used illegally for crimes such as child prostitution, child pornography, sale of illegal and counterfeit drugs, stolen intellectual property, and more. This abuse of the immunity provision must be changed to make corporations put public safety over corporate profits.”

The letter to Congress seeks an amendment to clarify that states, localities, and territories retain authority to investigate and prosecute facilitators of child sex trafficking wherever they operate, including online. The simple word addition to the CDA proposed in this letter will help to ensure that citizens and children are effectively protected throughout the entire country, in all courts.

“These corporations are conducting criminal activity as a business and hiding behind this law,” explained General Hood. “A clear example is that a newspaper running a classified ad in their printed edition of their paper advertising child prostitution could be charged with a crime; whereas, the same ad online would not be subject to prosecution, even if it could be proven that the news organization was aware of the illegal activity being advertised. It is unfortunate that the CEOs of some of the largest, most profitable corporations in the world have placed profits over being good corporate citizens.”

To view the letter, click here.

In addition to Mississippi, the following states and territories signed onto the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.