Ridgeland man arrested for child pornography

December 30, 2019

A Ridgeland resident was recently arrested and charged with one count of possession of child pornography, Attorney General Jim Hood announced. 

Jeromy Ethan Pollard, 18, was arrested December 20 at his home by investigators of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Unit following an investigation into his suspicious online activity. Investigators seized numerous electronic devices belonging to Pollard.

Pollard was booked into the Madison County jail with a bond set at $50,000.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 Ridgeland Police Department. Prosecution will be handled by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


AG Hood thanks Mississippi as term nears end

December 19, 2019

Attorney General Jim Hood issued the following note of thanks to Mississippians as he completes his fourth and final term as attorney general:

“I am forever thankful to the people of Mississippi for allowing me the opportunity to serve you as attorney general for 16 years, as district attorney for eight, assistant attorney general for five and a law clerk at the Mississippi Supreme Court for one.  My faith in God has always been the nucleus of my belief in life, and it’s what drove me every day as AG in standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Whether victims of crime or consumers who were preyed upon by fraud and dishonesty, my staff and I showed up each day to fight for you, the vulnerable, and the less fortunate.

My passion has always been to seek justice for children and the elderly. As a father of three and a son who cared for his loving parents, I know that these populations are some of our most vulnerable, and many times, are the very ones I am describing when I say ‘stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.’ My staff locked up hundreds of child predators and those who stole from innocent, unsuspecting senior citizens. I am proud of their commitment to protecting the vulnerable.

I especially want to thank my staff for standing up to out-of-state corporations who stole from our taxpayers, and in turn, returning billions of dollars to the state’s coffers. I received criticism from political opponents for this, but I am not beholden to corporate masters. The taxpayers of Mississippi are the ones to whom I answer, and I am proud to say our staff always did what was right, even if it wasn’t popular to some.

A wonderful part of serving as AG was the relationships built with other law enforcement agencies. We could not do what we do every day without the help of fellow law enforcement. These men and women put their lives on the line every day, miss family time, and work long hours in order to protect you and yours. They do not seek appreciation, but they deserve every bit, and I thank them sincerely for their service to Mississippi.  I will continue to support law enforcement.

God has always opened and closed doors in my life.  I usually did not see it happening until looking back in hindsight.  I will reopen my deceased father’s law office in Houston, where he practiced for 45 years.

I believe we have left our state a stronger and safer place to call home, and I hope that you are equally as proud as I am of the work the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office has accomplished over the last 16 years. All of our achievements are due to the most dedicated folks in Mississippi who work in this office. My staff are true public servants, and I consider myself blessed to have met and worked with them.

Thank you, again, for the opportunity to serve and protect you. It has been the greatest honor of my life. God bless you, and God bless Mississippi.”


Vardaman man arrested for child pornography, sexual battery

December 18, 2019

A Vardaman resident was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of possession of child pornography and one count of sexual battery, Attorney General Jim Hood announced. 

Melvin Lee Cardwell, 25, 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 numerous electronic devices belonging to Cardwell.

Cardwell was booked into the Calhoun County jail with a $20,000 bond set for each count. If convicted, he faces up to 40 years for each child exploitation count. Additionally, he faces life in prison for the sexual battery count. 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 Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office. Prosecution will be handled by Special Assistant Attorney General Brandon Ogburn.


Gulfport woman sentenced for child pornography, sexual battery

December 17, 2019

Anika Moore Bruner, 22, will spend 20 years behind bars for producing child pornography and committing sexual battery of a minor child, Attorney General Jim Hood announced.

Bruner appeared before Harrison County Circuit Court Judge Christopher L. Schmidt on October 28 and entered an open plea of guilty to one count of child exploitation and one count of sexual battery. Judge Schmidt sentenced Bruner on Monday to serve 20 years on each count with the sentences running concurrently. An open plea means the defendant refused to accept the state’s recommendation and instead threw herself on the mercy of the court.

Bruner was arrested in February 2018 by investigators of the AG’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with assistance from the Gulfport Police Department.

“We appreciate Judge Schmidt for handing down a sentence that will put this defendant away for a long time, and we thank the Gulfport Police Department for assisting us in the arrest,” General Hood said. “It is our duty to protect our most vulnerable residents and our children. This office will continue to go after these predators to keep them out of our state.”

The case was prosecuted by Special Assistant Brandon Ogburn of the Attorney General’s Cyber Crime Division.


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.