Two Grenada residents indicted for insurance fraud, other charges

December 13, 2019

Two Grenada residents, acting individually and through Affordable Funeral Home, were indicted by a Grenada County grand jury Wednesday for their roles in defrauding customers who bought life insurance plans, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Lillian Jamison and Arthur Tucker, both 65, were indicted on one count each of insurance fraud, conspiracy, and false pretense. Jamison was also indicted on one count each of embezzlement and wire fraud. The joint indictment states that the two conspired with one another and actively engaged in a scheme to defraud unsuspecting members of the public who were targeted to assign their life insurance policies to Ms. Jamison and Affordable Funeral Home in order to pay for their funerals in advance of death. The defendants were booked into the Grenada County jail on Wednesday without bond.

Prior to the victim dying, a fraudulent death certificate was issued, representing that the victim had passed away when, in fact, he was still alive. The fraudulent death certificate was submitted to the insurance company, and a check worth $15,104.80 was cut for life insurance proceeds and the funds were embezzled by Jamison.

If convicted on all counts, Jamison faces a maximum prison sentence of 33 years and a maximum fine of $55,000. Tucker faces up to 18 years in prison and $20,000 in fines if convicted on all counts. 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.

It is believed that there are other innocent victims of Jamison and Tucker. If you believe you or a loved one are a victim, please contact the AG’s Insurance Enforcement Integrity Bureau at 601-359-4254.

This case was investigated by AG Investigator Justin Harris and will be prosecuted by Special Assistant Attorney General Steven Waldrup. It was referred to the AG’s office by the Mississippi Insurance Department.

AG Hood Calls for Fentanyl to Remain a Schedule I Drug

December 11, 2019

Attorney General Jim Hood joined a bipartisan coalition of all 56 attorneys general Wednesday in calling for Congress to permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs. Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

The group of attorneys general sent a letter to U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), urging Congress to pass S. 2701, the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act, which is a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary scheduling order in February 2018 to schedule fentanyl-related substances that has allowed federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal actions against individuals who manufacture, distribute or handle fentanyl-related substances. This scheduling order is set to expire less than two months from now on Feb. 6, 2020. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act codifies DEA precedent to schedule fentanyl-related substances.

“This is another necessary step in our continued fight against the opioid epidemic,” General Hood said. “The FIGHT Fentanyl Act will ensure law enforcement agencies and courts retain the tools needed to keep those who traffic in this deadly substance off the streets.”

In the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 72,000 drug-related deaths in the United States in 2017. Of those deaths, roughly 40% involved fentanyl or a fentanyl-related compound.

With the support of every Attorney General, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) has chosen to endorse the legislation as one of its official policy positions. NAAG typically endorses around a dozen policies a year.

Three Sentenced in 2017 Christmas Present Burglary

December 11, 2019

Three Greenville men will spend time in prison for burglarizing a Greenville home in 2017 and stealing gifts from under a man’s Christmas tree, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

(L to R) Sakool Wilson, 27, Antonio Jones, 27, and Billy Ray Walker, 37, will spend time in prison for burglarizing a Greenville home in 2017 and stealing gifts from under a man’s Christmas tree.

Billy Ray Walker, 37, Antonio Jones, 27, and Sakool Wilson, 27, were each sentenced Tuesday on one charge each of house burglary by Washington County Circuit Court Judge Ashley Hines. Walker, who has two prior felony convictions for house burglary, was sentenced as a habitual offender to 23 years with five years suspended, 18 years to serve, and five years post release supervision. He was also sentenced to five years for conspiracy that will run concurrently with the house burglary conviction.

Jones also had two prior felony convictions for house burglary and was sentenced to 20 years to serve as a habitual offender. Wilson was sentenced to 10 years to serve.

“Burglars are greedy criminals, but stealing from an innocent person during the holidays is even worse,” General Hood said. “Thanks to Judge Hines for the strong sentencings. I hope that closing this case brings the victim holiday cheer that was previously stolen from him and his family.”

Each defendant was also ordered to pay restitution to both the insurance company and the victim. Split evenly among the defendants, restitution to the insurance company totals $23,581.76 and $12,649.51 to the victim. Each defendant was also ordered to pay $500 to Victims’ Compensation Fund as well as court costs.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander. The investigation was conducted by the Greenville Police Department with assistance from AG investigator Perry Tate. The AG’s office received this case because of a conflict of interest with the Washington County District Attorney’s office.

Meridian Store Owner Sentenced for Selling Spice, Counterfeit Goods

November 22, 2019

A Meridian man will spend eight years in prison after being found guilty on numerous charges related to the sale of counterfeit goods and possessing more than 30 grams of spice, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Abdulkhaliq Mohammed Murshid, 40, was sentenced Thursday by Lauderdale County Circuit Court Judge Charles Wright on one count of selling counterfeit goods, one count of possession of “spice” (synthetic cannabinoids) with the intent to sell, and three counts of selling of an unauthorized recording device. A jury found him guilty on Wednesday. Murshid is the owner of Meridian Grocery and Tobacco and Grey Cloud Tobacco stores, which is where the illegal items were sold, including fake Michael Kors and Louis Vuitton purses, as well as CDs and DVDs.

A multiagency investigation in June 2015 into the sale of counterfeit goods and the scheduled narcotic drug spice included multiple search warrants at numerous locations. During the search warrants, investigators retrieved large amounts of spice, counterfeit goods, guns, and more than $200,000 in U.S. currency.

Murshid was sentenced to serve three years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections for count one. He was sentenced to five years on count two, which runs concurrent to count one, as well as a $20,000 fine. On counts three, four and five, Murshid was fined $5,000 for each count.

“Anytime a drug dealer is put behind bars, lives are saved,” General Hood said. “I appreciate the work of the many dedicated agencies and the decisions made by Judge Wright and the jury to get this dangerous man out of our communities and cut off his means of selling counterfeit goods and drugs in our state.”

This case was investigated by Lee McDivitt of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, with assistance from the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and the Lauderdale County Narcotics Division. Special Assistant Attorney General Patrick Beasley handled the prosecution.

Columbus Woman to Serve 5 Years for Stealing from now Deceased Parents

November 19, 2019

Darlene McKinley Thompson was sentenced Friday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing $80,000 from her parents who are now deceased, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Thompson, 59, of Columbus, was sentenced by Lowndes County Circuit Court Judge James T. Kitchens, Jr., on one count of exploitation of a vulnerable person. Judge Kitchens sentenced Thompson to 10 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections with five years suspended and five years to serve. She was placed on five years of supervised probation upon her release and ordered to receive alcohol and drug treatment while incarcerated. Additionally, Thompson must pay a $500 fine, $500 to the state’s Crime Victim Compensation Fund, and all court costs.

“Unfortunately, these types of cases are more common, and they are often difficult to prove due to the victim’s medical state and because family members may eventually have a right to the funds,” said General Hood. “It’s important for families to make sure they are taking proper measures before drawing money from a loved one’s account, such as having in writing who has access and by keeping a check on the bank account activity to prevent fraud by another family member.”

This case was investigated by Anita Ray and prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander, both with the AG’s Public Integrity Division.

Former Coast Bus Driver Convicted for Abuse and Assault

November 14, 2019

A Jackson county jury found 58-year-old Antoinette Jane Raymond, of Vancleave, guilty for contributing to neglect, delinquency or abuse of a child and simple assault, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

On the second day of trial, the jury reached a verdict in 30 minutes on Wednesday after Raymond testified on her own behalf for her treatment of a disabled child riding her school bus in 2014 and 2015. Raymond, a former St. Martin school bus driver, claimed she wasn’t in the right frame of mind at the time of the crime.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Robert Krebs delayed sentencing until he receives a pre-sentence report on Raymond that will include Raymond’s background and medical conditions. Raymond faces a total sentence of 18 months on the misdemeanor charges.

The case was investigated by Jackson County Sheriff’s Department with assistance from PID investigator Lisa Edwards. Prosecution was handled by Assistant Attorney General Stan Alexander and Special Assistant Attorney General Dana Sims. 

Petal Man Arrested for Child Pornography

November 14, 2019

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

Dylan Gentry, 24, was arrested at his home by investigators of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit following an investigation into his suspicious online activity. Investigators seized a digital electronic device belonging to Gentry. Gentry was booked into the Forrest County Adult Correctional Facility and is awaiting his initial appearance.

If convicted, he 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 Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Forrest County Sheriff’s Office. Prosecution will be handled by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.

AG Jim Hood Joins States Urging Congress to Pass the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act

November 13, 2019

Attorney General Jim Hood, along with a bipartisan coalition of 44 state attorneys general, is urging Congress to further support veterans by passing the Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019. House Resolution 886 would establish a Veteran Treatment Court Program in the United States Department of Justice to provide grants and technical assistance to state, local and tribal courts that implement Veteran Treatment Courts.

Veteran Treatment Courts are diversionary court processes, similar to drug and mental health courts, used for minor, non-violent offenses. These courts pair veterans with mentors to address substance abuse and mental health issues and assist veterans with obtaining United States Veterans Administration benefits that can help them with treatment and employment. There are currently over 450 Veteran Treatment Courts in 40 states and territories. Mississippi legislatively approved Veteran Treatment Courts in 2014. However, due to lack of funding, Mississippi currently only has two Veteran Treatment Courts, which operate within the 12th and 19th Circuit Adult Felony Drug Intervention Courts (in Forrest, Perry, George, Greene, and Jackson counties.)

“Passage of the resolution could help fund an additional eight Veterans Intervention Courts in Mississippi according to the state’s Administrative Office of Courts,” General Hood said. “Our military veterans have provided an invaluable service to our country, and the passage of this Act will empower our state and local justice systems to help veterans, with minor offenses, get back on track.”

Click here for a copy of the full letter.