Wisconsin Woman Arrested for Felony Exploitation of Vulnerable Person

April 24, 2015
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A Wisconsin resident has been arrested following indictment for felony exploitation of a vulnerable person, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Jessica Hardy, 23, of Beloit, Wisconsin, was arrested today by the Beloit police department in Wisconsin following an indictment by the Lee County Grand Jury on one count felony exploitation of a vulnerable person. Hardy is awaiting extradition Mississippi.

The defendant is accused in the indictment of making a patient’s pre-signed check payable to herself for $500 while employed as a certified nursing aide at an assisted living and retirement community in Tupelo.

If convicted, Hardy faces up to 10 years behind bars.  As with all cases, the charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by and prosecuted by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Control Fraud Unit.


Attorney General Jim Hood Files Suit Against State Farm for Alleged Katrina Scheme involving “Homeowner Assistance Program”

April 21, 2015
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Attorney General Jim Hood filed suit today against State Farm Fire and Casualty Company in the Circuit Court of Hinds County. The lawsuit seeks to recover damages for losses that the State of Mississippi suffered as a result of an alleged scheme by State Farm to mischaracterize wind damage as flood damage when adjusting the homeowner insurance claims of thousands of Mississippians in the
wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Mississippi established the Homeowner Assistance Program (“HAP”) after Katrina to provide financial assistance to Mississippi homeowners whose insurance did not fully cover the massive damage caused by the storm. Attorney General Hood alleges in the lawsuit that State Farm systematically mischaracterized Katrina wind damage (which its policies covered) as flood damage (which its policies did not cover), improperly minimizing its own financial burden and forcing that burden instead on to HAP. In doing so, State Farm caused Mississippi to pay hundreds of millions of dollars that the State otherwise could have allotted to other recovery efforts. Because homeowners who received funds from HAP subrogated their equivalent insurance claims to Mississippi, any funds recovered as a result of the lawsuit will be returned to the State.

“The Mississippi Homeowner Assistance Program was set up to pay homeowners for Hurricane Katrina damage that was not covered by insurance,” said Attorney General Hood. “State Farm took advantage of our program by causing HAP to pay for wind losses that State Farm should have covered under its homeowner policies. Remarkably, State Farm and other insurers walked away from Hurricane Katrina and experienced record profits in the years following, while Mississippi continues to suffer.”

The lawsuit highlights State Farm’s coercion of engineering firms to change their reports to conclude that (uninsured) flooding caused Hurricane Katrina damage. In a bellwether trial in 2013, a unanimous federal jury found that State Farm defrauded the U.S. government when it coerced an engineering firm to change a damage report in exactly this way. United States ex rel. Rigsby v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., No. 1:06-CV-433-HSO-RRH (S.D. Miss. Feb. 21, 2014), ECF No. 1129. Similar allegations involving improperly changed engineering reports have arisen in recent months in connection with the adjustment of insurance claims related to Hurricane Sandy.


Canton Resident Going to Prison for Aggravated Assault

April 17, 2015
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A Canton man is going to prison for aggravated assault, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Fredrick Smith Jr., 21, of Canton, was sentenced today by Hinds County Circuit Court Judge William Gowan on two charges of aggravated assault, to which Smith was found guilty by a jury.  The defendant was sentenced to 20 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections on the first count, with 15 years to serve and five years suspended.  Judge Gowan sentenced Smith to 20 years, with 15 years to serve, five years suspended and five years of post-release supervision on the second count. Both sentences will run concurrently, meaning Smith will serve a total of 15 years behind bars.

The investigation showed that Smith was one of three people who fired upon two people while they patronizing the Gas Stop Store in Jackson. The shooters were aiming at one victim when the other victim was caught in the line of fire and shot three times.  Both victims survived the shooting.  The other two defendants are awaiting trial.

The case was investigated by Perry Tate and Crystal Tillman and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Marvin L. Sanders and Rachel Emfinger of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Division.


Texas Resident Going to Prison for Scam on Craigslist

April 15, 2015
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A Texas man is going to prison for pulling off an internet scam using the identity of a deceased Mississippian, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

John Wiggins, 52, of Round Rock, Texas pleaded guilty today in Lafayette County Circuit Court before Judge John Gregory to two counts of Fraudulent Use of Identity involving a Craigslist scam.  Judge Gregory sentenced Wiggins to the maximum penalty of five years behind bars on each count with the sentences to run concurrent meaning Wiggins will spend five years behind bars for the crime.  He was also ordered to pay full restitution of $3,500 to the victims of the scam, one a resident of Colorado and the other a resident of Oklahoma.

The case was referred to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office.  The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that the defendant was behind a Craigslist scam regarding the sale of a 2003 Ford F350 truck using the identity of a deceased Lafayette County resident as the seller of the truck.  Wiggins was able to obtain money from the victims who were trying to purchase the truck, which was actually nonexistent.

“Our office is committed to making the internet a safer place for all of us to work and play,” said Attorney General Hood.  “I appreciate Judge Gregory for handing down the maximum sentence for this crime.”

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Shaun Yurtkuran of the  Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.


COMMUNITY SHRED DAYS CONTINUE TO HELP MISSISSIPPIANS COMBAT IDENTITY THEFT

April 15, 2015
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Attorney General Jim Hood is pleased to announce the results of Mississippi’s ninth annual Community Shred Days held statewide March 7 in D’Iberville, Hattiesburg, Meridian and Vicksburg and on March 27 in Jackson and Tupelo.

“The number of consumers participating in this event continues to grow each year,” said Attorney General Hood.  “Thank you to all who came out to support the event.  Our sponsors are key to the success of this event. Without our sponsors this event could not have been possible.  Together we are helping Mississippians avoid becoming victims of identity theft.”

Here are the final numbers of pounds shredded and consumers helped this year:

POUNDS

Jackson……………………35,000 lbs

Tupelo……………………..14,000 lbs

Meridian………………….11,000 lbs

D ’Iberville………………..10,000 lbs

Hattiesburg………………9,000 lbs

Vicksburg………………….10,000 lbs

Total pounds shred 2015……………………89,000         

 

CONSUMERS

Jackson= 515 (up from 441 last year)

Tupelo= 405 (up from 355 last year)

Meridian= 240 (up from 216 last year)

D’Iberville= 292 (up from 185 last year)

Hattiesburg= 240 (up from 180 last year)

Vicksburg 210= (up from 136 last year)

 

Total consumers 2015………………………1,902

Total consumers 2014……………………….1,513

 

During Community Shred Days, Magnolia Data Solutions (MDS) offered consumers in the Jackson and Vicksburg locations a way to destroy their electronic items that contained sensitive data.   MDS is Mississippi’s only certified electronic recycling facility.  This is the second year that MDS has been a part of this event. Here are the numbers reported by MDS:

 

 

EQUIPMENT DESTROYED

 

Vicksburg

17 Hard Drives

8 Floppy Disks Destroyed

12 Computers

 

Jackson

63 Hard Drives

134 Floppy Disks Destroyed

47 Computers

 

This year’s event was a partnership between the Attorney General’s Office, Shred-it, BancorpSouth, Magnolia Data Solutions, the Secretary of State’s Office, Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Mississippi State University Extension Service, Wal-Mart, The Home Depot, Leadership Council on Aging, Mississippi State University Extension Service,  and other Mississippi Consumer Education Partnership members.


Edwards Man Arrested for Child Exploitation

April 9, 2015
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An Edwards man is facing charges of child exploitation today, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

George Duke, age 63, of Edwards, has been arrested in Hinds County today by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit in a joint investigation with the Louisiana State Police. He is charged with one count of exploitation of a child for allegedly being in possession of child porn.

“We work very closely with Louisiana on these type of cases and they with us,” said Attorney General Hood.  “We appreciate our working relationship with them, especially when it comes to child exploitation cases.”

Duke was booked into the Hinds County Jail and is awaiting an initial appearance in court. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years behind bars.  As with all cases, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

 


Brookhaven Resident Going to Prison for Child Exploitation

April 7, 2015
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A Brookhaven man is going to prison for child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Jordan Scott Gill, 26, of Brookhaven, pleaded guilty to charges of child exploitation before Judge Michael Taylor in Brookhaven Circuit Court Monday.  As a result, Gill was sentenced to 40 years with ten years to serve and five years of post-release supervision.  Gill must also pay $1,000 to the children’s trust fund, $1,000 to the crime victim compensation fund and register as a sex offender upon release.

Gill admitted to possession and distribution of multiple images of child pornography using various email accounts.  The case was investigated by the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit/Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force following numerous cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

“Our working relationship with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is invaluable in tracking down child predators in our state,” said Attorney General Hood.  “I want to thank Judge Taylor for the strong sentence which lets child predators be warned that we intend to put them behind bars.”

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Brandon Ogburn and Linda Davis.


Senatobia Resident Going to Prison for Selling Counterfeit Goods

April 2, 2015
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A Senatobia resident is going to prison for selling counterfeit goods, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Keith Danner, 42, of Senatobia, pleaded guilty today, in Tate County Circuit Court before Judge Jimmy McClure, to felony sale of counterfeit goods, possession with intent to sell counterfeit goods and possession of codeine.  Danner was arrested in March of 2014 as part of a joint operation between the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office and the Senatobia Police Department, a member of the Attorney General’s Intellectual Property Theft Task Force.  Investigators linked hundreds of counterfeit items to Danner, including clothing and accessories.

Through cooperation among the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, Senatobia Police Department and the Tate County District Attorney’s Office, Danner received twenty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with ten years suspended and ten years to serve, followed by five years of post-release supervision. He was also ordered to pay $1,000 toward investigation costs.

“I would like to thank the AG’s office for assisting us with this case and getting these drugs and counterfeit goods off the streets,” said Senatobia Police Chief Steve Holts.  “Detectives Cote and West worked really hard on this case for our office.”

“This case is a prime example of the importance of state and local collaboration to address the sale of counterfeit goods in Mississippi,” said Attorney General Hood.  “I appreciate Judge McClure for helping to ensure this defendant pays for his crime behind bars.”

Danner was selling the counterfeit items from his car.  The case was investigated by Lee McDivitt and Shannon Beaver of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division and Detectives Matthew Cote and Jason West of the Senatobia Police Department.  It was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Shaun Yurtkuran, District Attorney John Champion and Tate County Assistant District Attorney Rhonda Amis.

“We applaud the efforts of Chief Holts and DA Champion and their offices, and we look forward to working with other local authorities on similar cases,” said Attorney General Hood.