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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

Vicksburg PD arrest woman for possession of methamphetamine

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Charlotte Coulter-Hull

Officers with the Vicksburg Police Department arrested a woman on drug charges yesterday.

During a traffic stop near Interstate 20 and Clay Street on Wednesday, Feb. 26, Charlotte Coulter-Hull, 50, of Oak Ridge Road was arrested for possession of methamphetamine.

Hull is scheduled to appear in Vicksburg Municipal Court on Friday, Feb. 28.

Also on Wednesday, officers responded to a shots-fired call in the area of Indiana Avenue and North Frontage Road around 3 p.m. Officers found no evidence of shots fired.

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Crime

Statutory rape trial of former Warren County pastor begins Monday

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Troy Anthony Piccaluga

The trial of a former pastor of two Warren County churches is set to begin Monday, March 2, in Warren County Circuit Court.

Troy Anthony Piccaluga, 50, is charged with two counts of statutory rape and one count of sexual battery. The two female victims in the case were between the ages of 14 and 16. An initial report filed by one victim’s parents led to the second victim.

Piccaluga was arrested in March 2018, and the alleged incidents took place from January to March of that year. At the time of his arrest, Piccaluga was Pastor of Eagle Lake United Methodist Church and Redwood United Methodist Church.

The trial is expected to take several days.

A separate civil action was filled in Warren County Circuit Court in recent days.

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Crime

Five teenagers charged with capital murder in Biloxi teen’s death

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Arrested, left to right: Willow Blackmon, 15, Yakeshia Blackmon, 17, Jarvis Cook, 17, Jasmine Kelley, 15, and Jaquez Porter, 17.

Biloxi Police have arrested five teenagers in the shooting death of a 16-year-old.

Officers were called to a home for a medical emergency Monday, Feb. 24 around 2 p.m. They found Madison Harris, 16, had been shot and was unresponsive. She was taken to the hospital where she later died of her wounds, reports WJTV.

Madison Harris (source: WLOX)

Police determined that Harris had been shot during an attempted robbery. The home’s Ring Doorbell app captured the suspects entering and leaving.

Arrested in connection with the shooting were Willow Blackmon, 15, Yakeshia Blackmon, 17, Jarvis Cook, 17, Jasmine Kelley, 15, and Jaquez Porter, 17.

Reportedly, Harris knew the suspects and considered some of them friends.  All five have been charged as adults with capital murder.

Cook is being held without bond as he was out on bond in a separate incident. The other four are being held on bonds of $1 million each.

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