Attorney General Jim Hood Reaches $470 Million Joint State-Federal Settlement with HSBC to Address Mortgage Loan Origination, Servicing, and Foreclosure Abuses

February 5, 2016
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Agreement to provide certain Mississippi borrowers with loan modifications; foreclosed HSBC loans may be eligible for payments for past abuse

 Attorney General Jim Hood today announced that nearly 500 Mississippi homeowners will receive compensation as part of a $470 million joint state-federal settlement with HSBC to address mortgage origination, servicing, and foreclosure abuses.

The settlement provides various forms of relief to borrowers in need of assistance, including direct payments for past foreclosure abuses and loan modifications. The settlement with the mortgage lender and servicers also establishes rigorous mortgage servicing standards and grants oversight authority to an independent monitor.

The settlement includes Mississippi, 48 other states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government.

“This settlement holds HSBC accountable for its past abusive practices, and it provides relief to Mississippi borrowers,” said Attorney General Hood. “Through tough servicing standards, this agreement compels HSBC to treat its borrowers much more fairly in the future.”

The agreement’s mortgage servicing terms largely mirrors the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) reached in February of 2012 between the federal government, 49 state attorneys general, including Mississippi, and the five largest national mortgage servicers. That agreement provided consumers nationwide with more than $50 billion in direct relief, created new servicing standards, and implemented independent oversight.

A subsequent state-federal agreement with SunTrust Mortgage Inc. worth nearly $1 billion was announced in June of 2014.

The HSBC agreement requires the company to provide certain Mississippi borrowers with loan modifications or other relief. The modifications may include principal reductions and refinancing for underwater mortgages.

Approximately 470 eligible Mississippi borrowers whose loans were serviced by HSBC and who lost their home to foreclosure from January 1, 2008, through December 31, 2012, will be eligible for direct payments.

Eligible borrowers will be contacted about how to qualify for payments.

Additionally, the settlement requires HSBC to substantially change how it services mortgage loans, handles foreclosures, and ensures the accuracy of information provided in federal bankruptcy court.

The terms will prevent past foreclosure abuses, such as robo-signing, improper documentation and lost paperwork.



DeSoto County Man Going to Prison for Child Exploitation

February 3, 2016
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Kenath Dwayne Peal, 57, of Horn Lake, has been sentenced for child exploitation, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Peal pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of child exploitation before DeSoto County Circuit Court Judge Robert P. Chamberlin, Jr. Judge Chamberlin sentenced Peal to 20 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with five years to serve and the remaining time on post-release supervision. Peal was ordered to pay $1,000 to the Mississippi Children’s Trust Fund, $1,000 to the Mississippi Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund, and must register as a sex offender.

Peal was arrested September 9, 2014, by investigators with the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit and the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office after it was discovered that Peal possessed numerous images and videos of child pornography. The arrest was made through the Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

“We focus all our resources, including advanced computer hardware and software, to seek out and find child predators and bring them to justice,” said Attorney General Hood. “We will continue to work with the task force to put these kinds of criminals behind bars, and we thank Judge Chamberlin for the sentence and the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance on this case.”

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



February 2, 2016
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Doyce Navada Walley, 47, of Lincoln County, was sentenced Monday for his failure to pay $18,000 in child support, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Walley pleaded guilty to felony failure to pay child support before Lincoln County Circuit Court Judge Michael Taylor. He admitted that he has failed to pay $18,000 in past due child support.

Judge Taylor sentenced Walley to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years suspended on supervised probation, so that he could pay the $18,000 he owes. Walley will be required to pay at least $300 monthly in arrears. Judge Taylor also ordered Walley to pay all costs of court, as well as a $100 fine.

“This prosecution represents our strong commitment to the children in our state who deserve the financial support of their parents and we thank Judge Taylor for reminding our deadbeat parents that there is no hiding place from their responsibilities in Mississippi,” said Attorney General Hood.

This case was investigated by Kynda Walker and prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Purdie of the Attorney General’s Child Desertion Unit.


Hinds County Resident Going to Jail for Assault of a Vulnerable Person

February 2, 2016
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Belinthia Ross, 32, of Jackson, has been sentenced Monday to prison for simple assault of a vulnerable person, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Ross was convicted by a Rankin County Jury on December 8. Rankin County Circuit Court Judge William E. Chapman III sentenced Ross to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and ordered her to pay $801 in court costs.

The Attorney General’s investigation showed that Ross hit an 83 year old female resident of a local nursing home. As a result of the assault, the victim was unconscious and bruised.

This case was investigated by Jake Windham and was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Sue Perry and Garland Lyell of the Mississippi Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Collinsville Man Convicted of DUI Manslaughter

January 29, 2016
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A Collinsville man was convicted of DUI manslaughter Thursday, announced Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.

A Lauderdale County Jury deliberated for less than one hour before finding Mitchell James Roberts, 24, guilty of DUI manslaughter in the death of 14-year-old Arnold Aultman, Jr.  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 Arnold Aultman, Jr.  Aultman, Jr. died as a result of the wreck.

“Driving under the influence of anything which impairs reaction and decision making processes can have terrible consequences.   Both families will grieve forever.  I beg all of our driving age citizens to remember these consequences.  Don’t drive if you have taken anything which can affect your abilities,” said Attorney General Hood. 

“I’m very proud of the work by Prosecutors, Assistant Attorney General Stanley Alexander, Director of Public Integrity, and Special Assistant Attorney General Molly Miller, Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor (TSRP), as well as the Meridian Police Department and Attorney General Investigators Crystal Tillman and Roger Wade.”  Hood went on to note, “The TSRP Unit provides training and legal assistance to law enforcement and prosecutors on traffic safety issues, primarily DUI prosecutions.  We have resources which can be helpful to schools, churches, and other agencies in the effort to reduce impaired driving.  Just call the office at 601-359-3680.” 

The case was prosecuted at the request of District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell.

“I would like to thank the Attorney General’s Office for stepping up and handling this case,” said District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell. “Attorney General Hood is a great friend and a fabulous advocate for the State of Mississippi. AAG Stanley Alexander and SAAG Molly Miller were professional advocates for Lauderdale County, and I couldn’t be prouder of their efforts. I would also like to thank my staff for getting the case indicted and working to ensure that justice was done for Arnold Aultman, Jr. I hope Arnold’s death, and this prosecution, will save lives in the future by keeping impaired drivers off the road.”

Roberts faces up to 25 years in prison, and he will be sentenced on April 6, 2016, by Circuit Court Judge Lester Williamson, Jr. 


Grenada Resident Going to Prison for Sexual Battery of a Vulnerable Person

January 29, 2016
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Anthony Tyrone Reece, 42, of Grenada, has been sentenced to prison for the sexual battery of a vulnerable person, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Reece appeared before Panola County Circuit Court Judge Gerald Chatham Thursday to be sentenced after entering a plea of guilty to one count of sexual battery of a vulnerable person.  Judge Chatham sentenced Reece to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, four years suspended, one to serve, with four years post-release supervision. The defendant must also register as a sex offender upon release and remain on the registry for life.

The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that the defendant, while employed as a mental health technician at Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Batesville, engaged in sexual penetration at least once with the victim, who was a patient at Tri-Lakes Medical Center.  The crime occurred while the victim was a patient at a mental health facility.

“Taking advantage of a vulnerable person is one of the most disgusting things a person can do, yet it still is happening every day,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “We will continue to investigate these cases and prosecute those who are committing these crimes against our loved ones and they will be punished.”

The case was investigated by Norman Young and Joe Sanderson and was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorneys General Sue Perry and Mark McClinton of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.


Jackson Man Sentenced Going to Prison for Aggravated Assault

January 28, 2016
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Jonathan Prior, 28, of Jackson, was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and possession of weapon by a felon, announced Attorney General Jim Hood today.

Prior appeared Tuesday before Judge Bill Gowan in Hinds County Circuit Court and pleaded guilty to possessing a gun that discharged into the car of Charles Dulaney in Hinds County.

Judge Gowan sentenced Prior to 10 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with eight years suspended, followed by five years post-release supervision on the aggravated assault charge. Prior was sentenced to 10 years in the Custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years suspended, five years supervised probation, and five years post-release supervision on the possession of weapon by a felony charge. Both counts are to run concurrently.

This case was investigated by Attorney General’s Investigator Perry Tate of the Public Integrity Division. Prosecution was handled by Special Assistant Attorneys General Marvin Sanders and Kimberly Purdie.


Attorney General Jim Hood Announces His 2016 Legislative Agenda

January 27, 2016
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Attorney General Jim Hood today announced his 2016 legislative agenda.

“Our 2016 legislative agenda puts citizen safety at the forefront of this session, right where it belongs,” said Attorney General Hood.  “Our agenda prioritizes key issues such as better laws for child victims including child victims of human trafficking, and improvements to community safety by strengthening Mississippi’s Statewide Re-entry program along with initiatives which will help protect citizen’s personal information.”

Attorney General Hood’s legislative priorities include (in no specific order):

  • Strengthening Mississippi’s Statewide Re-Entry program:
    • Create Re-entry pilot program to help transition inmates from incarceration into society.
    • Including a Re-Entry program appropriation request.
  • Amend the definition of “abused child” in the Youth Court Act to include a child who has been a victim of human trafficking.
  • Create a statute that mandates what a law enforcement agency has to do when they receive a report of any missing child.
  • Grant wiretapping authority to the attorney general for certain crimes, including violations of the Human Trafficking Act.
  • Codify the appeals process for domestic violence protection orders.
  • Create the crime of indecent assault upon a competent adult to mirror existing crime of indecent assault up a vulnerable person.
  • Prohibit data mining by state contractors to protect citizens personal information.
  • Election Law Reforms
    • Clarify that candidates must detail credit card purchases on campaign finance reports.
    • Prohibition on personal use of campaign finance funds.
    • Disclaimers on political advertising.
    • Clarify that in all matters regarding elections, homestead exemption establishes a strong but rebuttable presumption of residency.
  • Create statewide certification for solar panel installers.
  • Restore prosecutor’s training assessment to $2.00 from $1.25 under traffic violations assessments.
  • Death penalty; provide for an alternative means of execution should the lethal injection drugs be unavailable or lethal injection itself be declared unconstitutional. Alternatives means includes nitrogen hypoxia, electrocution, or firing squad.
  • Exempt from the Public Records Act the identities of the state execution team as well as the lethal injection drug supplier.

Attorney General Jim Hood concludes, “Our legislative agenda will strengthen Mississippi by implementing the kinds of policies that improve the lives of our concerned citizens. I look forward to working with members of the legislature to move these proposals forward.”