Attorney General Jim Hood announced that an additional $ 34,441,643.60 recovered by his office was delivered to the state Treasury today, and he urged the Mississippi Legislature to appropriate about $7 million to the Department of Mental Health. This includes $1,985,461 for the reopening of the Chemical Dependency Unit for men at the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield. This would reopen 25 beds which served 336 male patients in FY16, but were closed last year due to budget cuts. The other $5,350,400 would go to fund the state’s Intellectual Disabilities/Developmental Disabilities (ID/DD) Home and Community Based Waiver program.
After an $8.3 million cut to its FY2017 budget, the Department of Mental Health closed two Chemical Dependency Units for men at the Mississippi State Hospital and East Mississippi Hospital. Since then, mid-year budget cuts totaling $3.5 million have further restricted the department’s finances. The women’s unit at Whitfield remains open.
“Many counties have relied on the men’s drug and alcohol facility at Whitfield to treat those committed by court order to stay at Whitfield until they are released. I have received pleas from lawyers for and family members of men committed for drug and alcohol treatment to see if we can reopen the Whitfield unit. These lawyers and family members expressed concern that patients can walk away from local facilities, whereas they were housed in a secure environment on the Whitfield campus. It is amazing to me what a high level of substance abuse treatment the folks provide at Whitfield with little funding. I respectfully request that the Legislature merely appropriate $2 million of the $34 million check I sent them today to reopen the state-run chemical dependency unit for men at Whitfield.”
A mother, who is a nurse, wrote me about her struggle to help her 22-year-old son who is a drug addict. She states in her letter, “He was admitted to a community chemical dependency unit. He stayed 7 days. He was allowed to walk out after a familiar person was there as a speaker and he spiraled into mental breakdown and walked away.” She continued, “He needs to be in a facility on lockdown. The community CDU’s provided are for milder cases and willing participants. There is a need for Mississippi State Hospital Chemical Dependency unit for those unwilling participants. At the present, there is no place to help these guys. My son will end up in a correctional facility without the necessary medical help to become and stay sober.” She concluded by saying, “It is wrong to jail these individuals for their addiction causing behavior without addressing the addiction itself.”
An attorney who works with those seeking help with drug addiction wrote: “The closure of the State Hospital as a treatment option for males is a true tragedy.” He continued, “For the last several years, I have sought commitment to the State Hospital for many people charged with crimes. It is working! Rather than jailing these people, I have placed them where they need to be – a treatment center. Now, Whitfield is closed to treat males in this group. Local mental health centers don’t work because a person so committed can just leave – which they do. In 2015, 847 males were committed to Whitfield – now zero.”
Attorney General Hood stated, “If some Legislators do not care about the families of those addicted to drugs, then they should at least be concerned that the cost to taxpayers of doing nothing is more than the cost of treatment. Many of these patients wind up in county jails with counties having to pay the cost of warehousing them.”
“I also respectfully request that the Legislature appropriate $5,350,400 to the Department of Mental Health to continue to support the 2,515 people who are able to remain in their homes and communities because of the ID/DD Home and Community Based Waiver,” Attorney General Hood said.
The ID/DD Home and Community Based Waiver program is a Medicaid funded program that allows reimbursement to providers when serving qualified individuals in need of support and treatment in the community.
“The Legislature has been funding this program for several years,” Attorney General Hood said. “Without this funding, services to many enrollees would be reduced, the number of enrollees would be reduced, or a combination of both. This funding will also assist us in defending the state in pending litigation.”
In the last year, Attorney General Hood has delivered two checks totaling $100,158,623.58 in addition to this $34.4 million dollar check today. His office delivered a check in the amount of $66,207,318.37 on Feb. 17, 2016, and a second check for $33,951,305.21 on Oct. 7, 2016. “This amount is enough to cover the cost of the Attorney General’s Office for four years,” Attorney General Hood said. During his tenure, Attorney General Hood has recovered more than $3.3 billion from out of state corporations that have violated Mississippi law.
The majority of the $34.4 million delivered to the Treasury today is from the multistate settlement with Moody’s Corporation, Investors Service and Analytics, Inc. Attorney General Hood and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen led the investigation and litigation in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice which culminated in a nearly $864 million settlement for 21 states, the District of Columbia and the federal government in January.
Two Additional Attachments:
Local Cleveland Convenient Stores and Bars Receive 10 Total Citations for Selling Alcohol and Tobacco to Minors
Investigators with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement Division recently teamed up with the Cleveland Police Department to conduct alcohol and beer compliance checks in Cleveland which resulted in the issuance of five citations for selling alcohol or tobacco to minors and five citations issued to minors in possession of alcohol.
“Retailers who choose to sell alcohol and tobacco to minors are sending a message to our youth that it is acceptable to break the law,” Attorney General Hood said. “This message not only promotes irresponsible consumption of alcohol to our minors, it also increases the number of our young ones who get behind the wheel after drinking. The lives of our children and loved ones are at risk whenever alcohol consumption and driving are mixed.”
In Cleveland on March 9, the following businesses received citations when checked for compliance on selling alcohol or tobacco to minors:
Z- MART 210 N. MLK Drive 3 VIOLATIONS
CLEVELAND GAS MART 309 E. Sunflower Road VIOLATION
SUPER SAVE #18 716 E. Sunflower Road VIOLATION
Five violations were issued at On The Rocks, 717 E. Sunflower Road, to five individuals for minor in possession of alcohol.
No violations were issued at the following businesses in Cleveland when checked for compliance on selling alcohol or tobacco to minors:
ANDY’S QUICK STOP 101 5TH Avenue
61 BEER & TOBACCO 420 North Davis Avenue
DODGES STORE 714 North Davis Avenue
HEY JOE’S 118 E. Sunflower Road
THE PICKLED OKRA 201 S. Sharpe Avenue
Attorney General Jim Hood and Cleveland Police Chief Charles “Buster” Bingham caution Cleveland retailers that illegally selling to minors will result in a stout fine to the State. If you are caught and continue to sell, you can lose your permit to sell and face a fine of $1,000-$2,000, and up to a year in jail.
“We would like to thank the Attorney General’s Office for their efforts in helping us with curtailing sales of alcohol and tobacco to underage individuals,” Chief Bingham said. “We will continue to target individuals who try to profit from sales of tobacco and especially alcohol to underage kids. I wish to thank the Attorney General’s Office and their investigators for all that they do for us. When we have called for assistance they have never failed to promptly come in and help us.”
“We appreciate the longstanding commitment and support of Chief Bingham and his department. They have been leaders and have fought on the front line with high vigilance against underage drinking, in this college town,” Attorney General Hood said. “Our office will continue to partner with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies as we all remain dedicated to protecting our youth from the harmful effects tobacco and alcohol use can have in our communities.”
The Attorney General’s Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement Division provides training for staff and management of any retail establishment which sells alcohol. Attorney General Hood urges business owners and managers to contact the office and ask for on-site training.
“Our investigators conduct retail training to educate and train owners and employees in proper identification of underage youth as well as state laws governing the sale of alcohol and tobacco products,” Attorney General Hood said. “We recognize that proper training of clerks is an important component in reducing the availability of age restricted products to minors.”
During the past fiscal year, the Attorney General’s Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement Unit has conducted more than 6,600 alcohol compliance checks with a 3.12% buy rate across the state. Additionally, the division conducted 223 retailer training sessions with 475 retailer clerks in attendance. To request training for your establishment, contact the Attorney General’s Office at 601.359.3680, and ask for the Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement Unit.
Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Lee County woman has been arrested for felony exploitation of a vulnerable person.
Katrina Shannon, 37, of Shannon, turned herself into the Prentiss County Sheriff’s Office on Monday following an indictment by a Prentiss County grand jury for one count of felony exploitation. Shannon was booked into the Prentiss County jail with a bond set at $10,000, and her arraignment date is set for March 21.
The indictment alleges that beginning Feb. 1, 2016, through January 31, 2017, Shannon was illegally withdrawing money from the victim’s bank account without the victim’s consent. Shannon is accused of withdrawing more than $250 of the victim’s social security income and converting the money to her own use while the victim was a patient at a care facility.
If convicted, Shannon faces up to 10 years in prison and a maximum of $10,000 in fines. 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 is being investigated by Joe C. Sanderson and prosecution will be handled by the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Macon man has been convicted and sentenced to prison for credit card fraud.
Delvin Young, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of credit card fraud in Neshoba County Circuit Court on Tuesday before Circuit Court Judge Vernon R. Cotton. Young was arrested following his indictment by a Neshoba County Grand Jury on October 7.
An investigation by the Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division revealed that Young obtained personal information of people who did not give him authorization to use their identities, and used that information to apply for credit cards associated with Capitol One. Young used these credit cards at two casinos located in Neshoba County. Judge Cotton sentenced Young to three years in prison.
“Credit card fraud can be a financial and emotional toll for the victims, harming credit histories, bank accounts, and emotional well-being,” Attorney General Hood said. “Undoing the damage of these crimes can be agonizing for individual victims. This defendant callously ignored the consequences of his scheme, and I thank Judge Cotton for giving this man the justly deserved time to be served in prison for his actions.”
Attorney General Hood also encouraged Mississippi consumers to take advantage of Shred Day which is taking place in Jackson, Hattiesburg and D’Iberville this weekend. “Please bring any personal information that needs shredding to one of the shred locations,” Attorney General Hood said. “This is a service to protect consumers from identity thieves who are known to use credit applications, credit statements or any other item containing personally identifying information to take advantage of citizens.”
The case was investigated by Miller Faulk of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division with assistance by the Choctaw Police Department. Prosecution was handled by Special Assistant Attorney General Patrick E. Beasley.
Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Vicksburg man has been arrested and charged with one count of child exploitation.
William Eugene Wicker, Jr., 39, was arrested at his home Tuesday by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit with assistance from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators executed a search warrant following an investigation of Wicker’s online activity. As a result of the search warrant, he was arrested.
Wicker was booked into the Warren County Jail with no bond set. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. 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.
Attorney General Jim Hood announced today that a Flowood personal care assistant has been arrested for Medicaid fraud following her indictment by a Rankin County grand jury.
Shanika Sherese Keys, 37, of Meridian, turned herself in to authorities Monday. Keys is charged with one count of Medicaid Fraud. Keys was booked into the Rankin County jail and released on a $5,000 bond.
The indictment accuses Keys of submitting false claims for services that were never rendered for a Medicaid recipient, while Keys was employed as a personal care assistant for a healthcare agency in Flowood.
If convicted, the defendant faces up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine. 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 is being investigated by Christopher Watkins and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Mark McClinton of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
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
The Home Depot
6325 I-55 North
Starting at 7:30 am – 2:00 pm**
3615 Sangani Blvd.
Starting at 8:00 am – noon**
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.
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.