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Former Choctaw official and his wife face multiple charges in fraud scheme

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Flag of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

A former member of the Tribal Council for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and his wife have been indicted in a scheme defrauding the tribal government.

The couple, Kevin Edwards, 48, and Sheena Edwards, 45, face federal charges of theft/embezzlement, wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and false statements to a bank, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The indictments, which were returned by a federal grand jury Sept. 10, were announced Oct. 7 by U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst and Michelle A. Sutphin, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Mississippi, after both Edwards were arraigned.

Allegedly, between March 2015 and June 2017, the Edwards forged hotel bills and receipts, and submitted those documents to tribal government in claims for reimbursement for official business travel by Kevin Edwards. After the tribal government reimbursed them, the defendants cashed and transferred the payments to multiple bank accounts and paid off personal loans in the name of Sheena Edwards. In addition, both defendants made false statements on multiple personal loan applications to a local bank, inflating Kevin Edwards’s salary and claiming he was employed by the Tribe after he left office in June 2017.

Kevin Edwards faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and five years for theft/embezzlement and a fine of up to $250,000. Additionally, both Kevin and Sheena Edwards face 20 years on each count of conspiracy to launder money and substantive acts of money laundering and 30 years for each false statement to a bank. Each of those counts can also merit a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years of supervised release.

The case is set for trial before United States District Judge Henry T. Wingate on Nov. 25, 2019, in Jackson, Miss.

Crime

Crime Report from the Vicksburg Police Department

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Business Burglary

On Oct. 8, 2019, Vicksburg Police Department officers responded to a business burglary call at Hair It Iz, 1614 Bodley St.  According to the complainant, someone broke into the building and took an unknown quantity of T-shirts. Total value of the T-shirts is estimated at $50.

Residential Burglary

On Oct. 8, 2019, officers responded to a residence in the 2700 block of Alcorn Drive for an earlier burglary.  The complainant reported a 40-inch television, two laptop computers, a Samsung tablet, a PlayStation 360, a gold chain and $500 in cash were missing.

Arrest Made in Embezzlement Case

On Oct. 9, 2019, \Vicksburg Police Department investigators arrested Haley O’Briant, 128 Hunter Drive, Tallulah, La., on a charge of felony embezzlement. This matter had been reported to the Vicksburg Police on Oct. 4, 2019.

O’Briant is accused of stealing more than $56,000.00 from her employer. She appeared before Judge Angela Carpenter for her initial appearance today and was bound over to the Warren County Grand Jury on a $150,000 bond.

Haley O’Briant

Anyone with information on these cases is asked to contact the Vicksburg Police Department at 601-636-2511.

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Crime

Vicksburg man arrested for Tallulah, La., murder

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Chadwick Hearn

Authorities in Madison Parish, La., have arrested a Vicksburg man, charging him with murder.

According to the Madison Parish Sheriff’s Office, the shooting occurred Oct. 8, 2019, in Tallulah, La. Investigators say they received a 911 call around 7 p.m. about a shooting in the 400 block of Cooledge Street. When they arrived, they found Marvin Guy slumped outside his doorstep. Upon further inspection they discovered he had been shot. The coroner pronounced Guy dead at the scene.

Vicksburg resident Chadwick Hearn was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the case.

Chadwich Hearn from his social media.

According to the sheriff’s office, an argument escalated into a shooting. It is believed the two did not know each other prior to the altercation.

Hearn is being held on a $200,000 bond.

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Operation Triple Beam results in 149 arrests in North Mississippi.

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Photo from the Oregon Department of Transportation - Busted!Uploaded by Smallman12q, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24375345

Law enforcement officers have arrested 149 individuals in North Mississippi as part of an effort to reduce violent crime, drug crime and gang activity.

“Operation Triple Beam,” a U.S. Marshals led initiative, brought together federal, state, and local law enforcement partners in an effort to reduce crime in the Golden Triangle area by identifying and arresting violent fugitives, targeting violent gang activity, and collecting intelligence to allow for the systematic removal of individuals who are responsible for committing crimes in North Mississippi.

Among those arrested were 50 gang members. The operation also resulted in the seizure of approximately $65,820 worth of narcotics and narcotics related proceeds. In addition, 155 registered sex offenders living in Northeast Mississippi and the Golden Triangle area were checked for compliance with sex offender registration requirements. Compliance checks were also conducted on eight moderate and high-risk federal and state probationers.

The operation ran from July 15, 2019 through Aug. 30, 2019. It combined the efforts of a half dozen local law enforcement agencies across three counties in North Mississippi, along with state and federal law enforcement partners.

U.S. Marshal McKittrick and Chief Deputy Jeff Woodfin praised the collaboration.

“This initiative gave the public a small glimpse of what law enforcement carries out on a daily basis. We couldn’t be more proud of the men and women who worked diligently during this highly effective operation,” McKittrick said in a statement. “This all-hands-on-deck approach was pivotal in the success of this operation, which will make a difference in our communities. Some of these cases will be prosecuted in federal court and some in state court. There are additional ongoing investigations that may lead to future arrests, all of which are important in the pursuit of dismantling the criminal element in the Northern District of Mississippi.”

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