22-year-old Meridian Man Pleads Guilty to Possessing Child Pornography

August 13, 2019

Christopher Edward Scrimpshire, of Meridian, will spend five years in prison after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Charles Wright sentenced the 22-year-old Monday on one count of child exploitation. Judge Wright sentenced him to 20 years in custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with five years to serve and five years on supervised probation. Scrimpshire must also pay $1,000 to the Crime Victims Fund, $1,000 to the Children’s Trust Fund, a suspended $50,000 fine, register as a sex offender, and he must forfeit all rights to property seized during the prosecution of this case.

“We appreciate the assistance from the Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office on this case, and I thank Judge Wright for putting another child predator behind bars,” General Hood said. “Our investigation revealed that this man was in possession multiple images of child pornography on his phone. No disgusting child predators can hide in our state. Our cybercrime division will continue tracking down and putting these perverts behind bars.”

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

 


ATTORNEY GENERAL JIM HOOD WARNS, “THIS IS WHAT A SOCIAL SECURITY SCAM SOUNDS LIKE.”

August 8, 2019

Earlier this year, we told you about a growing scam: people pretending to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA), trying to get your Social Security number or your money. That scam is now growing and has taken on several different forms.

“A concerned citizen sent me a recording of one of these scammers,” General Hood said. Here’s what one of these calls sounds like:

These scammers try to scare you by saying your Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended because of suspicious activity, or because it’s been involved in a crime. Sometimes, the scammer wants you to confirm your SSN to reactivate it. Sometimes, he’ll say your bank account is about to be seized – but he’ll tell you what to do to keep it safe. (Often, that involves putting your money on gift cards and giving him the codes – which, of course, means that your money is gone.) Oh, and your caller ID often shows the real SSA phone number (1-800-772-1213) when these scammers call – but they’re faking that number. It’s not the real SSA calling.

“Recently our office has been made aware of a new version of the scam,” General Hood said. “This new version is even more frightening because it takes additional steps to make the call seem legitimate.”  In this new version, the scammer claims to be with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) and advises that the person’s SSN was used in criminal or suspicious activity and DEA is about to seize assets and money from the person’s bank account if they do not send money ASAP. The new twist is that if the person hangs up on the scammer, the person immediately receives a second call that appears to be from the local police department claiming they have a warrant and are on their way to arrest the person.  General Hood warns, “If you get one of these calls, no matter how official they seem and no matter how scary the situation sounds – hang up!”

Here’s what to know:

  • Your Social Security number is not about to be suspended. You don’t have to verify your number to anyone who calls out of the blue. And your bank accounts are not about to be seized.
  • Government agencies such as SSA or DEA will never call to threaten your benefits or tell you to wire money, send cash, or put money on gift cards. Anyone who tells you to do those things is a scammer. Every time.
  • Your caller ID might show the real SSA number (1-800-772-1213) but that is not the real SSA calling you.  Scammers are putting that number in the caller ID.  Computers make it easy to show any number on caller ID.  You can’t trust what you see there.
  • If you’re worried about what the caller says, hang up and call 1-800-772-1213 to speak to the real SSA. Even if the wait time is long, confirm with the real SSA before responding to one of these calls.
  • Never give any part of your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you. Don’t confirm the last 4 digits, and don’t give a bank account or credit card number – ever – to anybody who contacts you asking for it.

If you need additional information regarding this scam, please contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-281-4418 or 601-359-4230.


Washington County Store Owner Sentenced for Drug Trafficking

August 7, 2019

Mohamed Anagi Mohamed, of Greenville, will spend 10 years behind bars for drug trafficking, announced Attorney General Jim Hood.

Mohamed, 48, was sentenced Monday by Washington County Circuit Court Judge Ashley Hines. Judge Hines sentenced Mohamed to serve 30 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with 20 years suspended, 10 to serve and five years of post-release supervision. Mohamed must also pay $1,000 to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund, $280 for investigative costs to the Attorney General’s Office in addition to court costs and assessments.

In 2015, an AGO joint investigation, including members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Mississippi Crime Lab, Criminal Interdiction Unit of the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Greenville Police Department, developed into a large controlled substance case. The joint investigation revealed that Mohamed was selling a Schedule I controlled substance Cathonine, also known as “Khat,” from both his business, the Hakims Mini Mart, and his home, in $100 quantities.

“We thank Judge Hines for a solid sentence and for taking this dangerous man out of our community,” General Hood said. “I offer a job well done to each agency and every hand we had working on this case from local to state to federal levels. With a unified effort we are able to apply incredible pressure on the prevention of drug trafficking in Mississippi, and that was evident in this case.”

“This case exemplifies the law enforcement partnerships at all levels, leading to safer communities,” said Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Mississippi Michelle A. Sutphin. “The FBI continues to be dedicated to the mission to reduce crime in the communities we serve.”

This case was investigated by investigators Lee McDivitt and Keith Milsap of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. Prosecution was handled by Special Assistant Attorney General Patrick Beasley and Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander.


AG Urges Congressional Leadership to Remove Federal Barriers to Treat Opioid Use Disorder

August 7, 2019

Attorney General Jim Hood joined a bipartisan coalition of 39 attorneys general in a letter to Congressional leadership, asking for the removal of federal barriers that currently prevent health care providers from offering treatment for opioid use disorder. 

Opioid use disorder is the physical and psychological reliance on opioids. In 2018, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics confirmed 342 overdose deaths (more than 28 Mississippians dying per month,) and 61.4% of those were opioid-related.

The letter calls for three actions:

  • Replacing the out-of-date privacy rules contained in 42 CFR Part 2 with the effective and more familiar privacy rules contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA);
  • Passing HR 2482, the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which will eliminate burdens on buprenorphine prescribers imposed by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. Buprenorphine is one of three drugs used as part of Medication Assisted Treatment, one of the most effective treatments for opioid use disorder. Yet, the federal requirements are discouraging doctors from prescribing this life-saving drug to patients who need it; and 
  • Fully repealing the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion. The IMD exclusion generally prohibits state Medicaid programs from receiving federal reimbursement for adults between 21 and 65 who receive mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility with more than 16 beds.

“The opioid epidemic has overwhelmed Mississippi, and we need to do everything in our power to address it. I hope Congress will pay attention to the three critical barriers in this letter,” General Hood said. “Removing them will allow us to effectively treat opioid use disorder as the chronic disease that it is.”

Mississippi joined lead states Oklahoma and North Carolina as well as Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakoda, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.


Mississippi Settles with Fiat, Bosch for Curbing Emissions Standards

August 2, 2019

Mississippi will receive a total of $770,540 from two separate multistate settlements reached between Attorney General Jim Hood, 51 attorneys general, Fiat Chrysler, and engineering company Bosch over the companies’ alleged undermining of auto emissions regulations for more than a decade.

The settlements, which are separate but related, stem from a case concerning software emissions equipment. The equipment, known as a “defeat device,” was intended to measure the amount of pollution released by a car and alert when the emissions were higher than industry standards. Bosch supplied defeat devices to Fiat Chrysler who manipulated the devices, causing the emissions to test improperly in new vehicles, therefore allowing a vehicle to pass an emissions test when it would have otherwise failed. These devices were only placed in diesel vehicles. General Hood alleges that Bosch continued to assist Fiat Chrysler as they implemented the defeat devices and concealed their misconduct from regulators and the public.

The attorneys general allege that Fiat Chrysler cheated on federal and state emissions tests by calibrating the vehicles’ software to conceal that the vehicles emitted higher than permitted levels of harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) in real-world driving conditions, and misled consumers by falsely claiming the “Eco-Diesel”-branded Jeep SUVs and Ram 1500 trucks were environmentally friendly and compliant with the law in all 50 states. There were 728 vehicles affected in Mississippi.

“Corporations have a responsibility to ensure regulatory and legal compliance in the automotive industry, and this settlement establishes the important precedent that those who knowingly go along with their clients’ wrongful conduct will be held accountable,” General Hood said. “Knowingly misleading innocent consumers is a low point of greed for companies, and I’m glad these companies are not only changing their practices but properly reimbursing their customers through a private class action suit.”

The total settlement amount to all participating states is $72.5 million with Fiat Chrysler and $98.7 million from Bosch. In Mississippi, Fiat Chrysler will pay the state $455,000 in monetary payments under Mississippi’s consumer protection laws for deceptively and unfairly marketing, selling and leasing the vehicles to consumers. Bosch will pay $315,540. The Bosch agreement also includes precedent-setting injunctive terms and requires Bosch to maintain robust processes to monitor compliance and to refuse to accommodate requests for software development and programming that could result in the installation of defeat device software. Fiat Chrysler will be prohibited from engaging in future unfair or deceptive acts and practices in connection with its dealings with consumers and require Fiat Chrysler to carry out its obligations under a related class action settlement agreement in the Multidistrict Litigation pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which includes restitution.

The proposed settlements with Fiat Chrysler follow earlier comprehensive settlements reached between Mississippi, along with other state, federal and private actors, and Volkswagen for equipping, marketing, selling and leasing more than 570,000 Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche diesel vehicles with illegal defeat devices. Under those settlements, Volkswagen paid the state of Mississippi monetary payments of $2.5 million, fixed or repurchased the affected vehicles, and paid restitution to Mississippi consumers.


Man Sentenced for Failing to Pay Over $51,000 in Child Support

July 29, 2019

Mark Anderson, of Vicksburg, must repay $51,404 for over 10 years’ worth of missed child support payments, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Anderson, 46, pleaded guilty Monday to one felony count of non-support of a child.  Warren County Circuit Court Judge Toni Walker Terrett sentenced Anderson to five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years suspended on post-release supervision.

“Taking care of your children is not an option and when a parent fails to uphold their monetary responsibility to their children in Mississippi, we will hold them accountable,” General Hood said. “Thank you to Judge Terrett for making this man pay what he owes his child.”

This case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Dana Sims of the AG’s Child Desertion Unit.

The Office of the Attorney General prosecutes cases regarding unpaid child support when all other avenues are exhausted or the case has been referred by the Department of Human Services. If you have a complaint regarding unpaid child support, please contact the DHS hotline at 877-882-4916.


Brandon Man Arrested for Possessing Child Pornography

July 24, 2019

A Brandon man was arrested Tuesday and charged with one count of child exploitation for possession of child pornography, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Jeremy Lee Craig, 28, was arrested at his home after an investigation into his suspicious online activity. He was booked into the Rankin County jail with no bond set and is awaiting his initial appearance.

If convicted, Craig 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 AG’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force with assistance from the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office, which is an ICAC affiliate, and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation. It will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


Former State Hospital Employee Pleads Guilty to Fondling Patient

July 24, 2019

A former direct care worker of East Mississippi State hospital will spend four years in prison for fondling a patient against his will, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Kenneth Tanksley, 28, of Meridian, was sentenced Tuesday in Lauderdale County Circuit Court for one felony count of fondling of a vulnerable person by an employee of a health care facility. Judge Charles Wright sentenced Tanksley to 10 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with six suspended and four to serve, in addition to five years post-release supervision. Judge Wright ordered Tanksley to pay a $1,000 fine and $250 to the Crime Victims Compensation Fund.

“This defendant was sexually abusing his victim then offering him candy hoping the victim would not tell, but thankfully the candy didn’t keep the victim quiet,” General Hood said. “I would like to thank Judge Wright for his dedication of putting those who sexually abuse our most vulnerable behind bars. We also appreciate the facility’s cooperation throughout the investigation and prosecution. The people who are served by this hospital and others have the right to feel safe, and our office will make sure anyone who is sick enough to take advantage of them will be prosecuted.”

This case was investigated by Trey Rogers with the AG’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and was prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Kathy Parker.