Two Arrested for Possessing Child Pornography

October 18, 2019

Two men were arrested Thursday in separate cases after investigators discovered suspicious online activity, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Walter David Woodard, 64, of Meridian, and Mikel Peter Carlson, 54, of Stonewall, were arrested at their homes and each charged with two counts of child exploitation for possession of child pornography.

Woodard was booked into the Lauderdale County jail with his bond set at $100,000. Investigative assistance for this case was provided by the Meridian Police Department, Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

Carlson was booked into the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and is awaiting his initial appearance. Investigative assistance for this case was provided by the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and Stonewall Police Department.

If convicted for both counts, they each face up to 80 years in prison. 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. Both cases will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


Former State Hospital Employee Indicted for Stealing from a Vulnerable Person

October 17, 2019

A former employee of the East Mississippi State Hospital faces 10 years in prison for allegedly stealing money from a resident of the facility, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Gregory Freeman, 37, of Meridian, was indicted by a Lauderdale County grand jury for one count of felony exploitation of a vulnerable person. The indictment alleges between December 2017 and April 2018, Freeman accepted $500 from a resident of the facility in exchange for tobacco products valued at less than $100. At the time of the crimes, Freeman was employed as a direct care worker at the facility.

Freeman is currently incarcerated in the Lauderdale County Jail on a separate and unrelated Capital Murder charge. His initial appearance for this case is set for October 31. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 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 Trey Rogers and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Heather Joyner of the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.


Louisiana Felon Sentenced for Possessing a Firearm 

October 16, 2019

John Lee Davis, of Sicily Island, Louisiana, will spend five years in a Mississippi prison after entering an open plea of guilty Wednesday to one count of felon in possession of a firearm, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Davis, 55, was arrested on April 24, 2015, for being in possession of a firearm after having two prior felony convictions in Louisiana. Wilkinson County Circuit Court Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders sentenced Davis to serve five years behind bars in custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. This case was investigated by the Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office.

“I thank Judge Sanders for getting this dangerous man off of the streets and out of our communities,” General Hood said. “We appreciate the work done on this case by Wilkinson County Sheriff Jackson and his department leading up to his sentencing today.”

Prosecution was handled by Special Assistant Attorney General Marvin Sanders. The AG’s office received this case upon recusal of the Wilkinson County District Attorney due to conflict of interest.


COMMUNITY SHRED DAYS ANNOUNCED

October 16, 2019

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

Attorney General Jim Hood announced three community shred days, which is an opportunity for consumers to better protect themselves against identity theft.

The events will be held on October 21 in Greenville, October 28 in Jackson and on October 30 in Horn Lake.

 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.

For more information about the event or about protecting your identity, visit www.agjimhood.com.  Any questions can be addressed by calling the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 601-359-4230 or toll free at 1-800-281-4418.


Booneville Man Pleads Guilty to Sending Child Pornography

October 15, 2019

Sean Jones, of Booneville, will spend nine years in prison after pleading guilty to sending or transmitting child pornography, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

The 36-year-old was sentenced on one count of child exploitation Monday by Prentiss County Circuit Court Judge Kelly Mims. Judge Mims sentenced him to 25 years in prison with nine years to serve and five years on supervised post-release supervision. Jones must also pay $1,000 to the Crime Victims Fund, $1,000 to the Children’s Trust Fund, and he must register as a sex offender. Additionally, Jones is required to relinquish all rights to property seized during the course of this investigation.

“We appreciate the assistance from the Prentiss County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI Task Force on this case, and I thank Judge Mims for putting another child predator behind bars,” General Hood said. “Our investigation revealed that this man was in possession of multiple images of child pornography on his devices we seized during the investigation. A child is abused every single time a picture is downloaded and viewed.  We will lock-up those who victimize our children.”

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Tina Herron of the AG’s Cybercrime Unit.


Two Arrested for Possessing Child Pornography

October 14, 2019

Two men were arrested last week in separate cases after investigators discovered suspicious online activity, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

James Bryant, Jr., 27, of Hattiesburg, and Charles Lewis Freeman, Jr., 48, of Waynesboro, were arrested at their homes and each charged with one count of child exploitation for possession of child pornography.

Bryant was arrested Wednesday by the Hattiesburg Police Department and booked into the Forrest County Adult Correctional Facility. Investigative assistance for this case was provided by the Mississippi Department of Corrections, Hattiesburg Police Department and the Forrest County Sheriff’s Office.

Freeman was arrested Wednesday by an investigator of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Division and booked into the Wayne County jail.

If convicted, they both face up to 40 years in prison. 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. Both cases will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


AG Hood Settles Concerns on T-Mobile-Sprint Merger, Increases Services Available for Mississippians

October 9, 2019

Mississippians will have better access to 5G networks thanks to an agreement Attorney General Jim Hood reached recently with T-Mobile, as an alternative to litigation against the phone company’s merger, General Hood announced Wednesday.

Hood originally opposed the T-Mobile – Sprint merger as part of multistate litigation filed to prevent it. Before the agreement reached between Mississippi and T-Mobile, the merger did not include any specific commitments benefitting Mississippi. Only two percent of Mississippians would have benefitted from future 5G services by the stand-alone T-Mobile.

Instead, as a result of Hood’s agreement, the following commitments were made:

  • Within three years of closing on the merger, the New T-Mobile will deploy a 5G network in Mississippi with at least 62 percent of the state’s general and rural populations having access to download speeds equal to or greater than 100 Mbps.
    • Within six years of closing, it will cover at least 92 percent of Mississippi’s general population and 88% of Mississippi’s rural population.
  • These commitments include 5G service in rural areas, including but not limited to Amite, Carroll, Choctaw, Covington, Franklin, Greene, Issaquena, Kemper, Lawrence, Marion, Perry, Smith, Tippah, and Walthall counties.
  • The parties also made limited price commitments and, in discussions with the Attorney General’s Office, vowed to decrease prices as supply increased, particularly as DISH enters the mobile market.

“The world around us is almost fully digital, but Mississippi is lagging behind with internet deserts across the state” General Hood said. “My agreement with T-Mobile will help fill this gap, and I appreciate their commitments made specifically to Mississippi counties that lacked service. Access to the internet results in better access to education, jobs, and health care.”

This 5G technology is expected to drastically decrease latency or buffering, which will be more convenient for consumers and will enable access to valuable technologies in Mississippi, such as telemedicine, in ambulances and hospitals, and automated farming. The 5G internet service will be available to customers in their homes and businesses and beyond their smart phones, thanks to mobile routers. However, T-Mobile has also promised to roll out a broadband service that will be available to hundreds of thousands of Mississippians including those in rural areas.

In conversations with the parties, the Attorney General’s Office also confirmed that there would be no retail job loss and that new stores would be opened in rural areas.


Two Arrested in Bolivar County for Embezzlement

October 1, 2019

Two Bolivar County men have been arrested for embezzlement in two separate cases, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Joseph Woods Edney, Jr., 37, turned himself in to authorities Tuesday following his indictment by a Bolivar County grand jury on one count of embezzlement. Edney is accused of converting money orders to his own use between August 2013 and March 2018 while employed by the State of Mississippi. The money orders were the property of the State of Mississippi.

If convicted, Edney faces up to 20 years in prison. This case was investigated by the State Auditor’s Office and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Lakeita F. Rox-Love of the AG’s Public Integrity Division.

In a separate, unrelated case, Gared Watkins, 48, turned himself in to authorities Tuesday following his indictment by a Bolivar County grand jury on one count of embezzlement. Watkins is accused of using three school buses for his own personal use on August 1, 2018, while employed by the State of Mississippi as the Federal Programs Director for the North Bolivar Consolidated School District. The school buses are property of the Bolivar County Schools, State of Mississippi and North Bolivar Consolidated School District.

If convicted, Watkins faces up to 20 years in prison. This case was investigated by John Wayne Smith and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brad Oberhousen, both with the AG’s Public Integrity Division.

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.