Hundreds attend funeral of slain Mississippi deputy sheriff
MENDENHALL, Miss. (AP) — Hundreds of people have attended the funeral of a 77-year-old Mississippi deputy sheriff. James Blair was shot to death Friday while taking a man to a mental health facility in Simpson County. Sheriff Paul Mullins says Blair had a “lifelong commitment” to public safety. Gov. Tate Reeves ordered flags lowered to half-staff to honor Mullins. Investigators have charged 22-year-old Joaquin Blackwell with capital murder. They say they believe Blackwell overpowered Mullins, took the deputy’s gun and killed him, then ran into the woods. Blackwell was caught the next day and is jailed without bond.
Mississippi sees jump in virus after lifting restrictions
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi is reporting one of its largest single-day increases in cases of the new coronavirus. The Health Department says Wednesday that the state has 489 new cases. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves is calling that “a large number by any measure.” It’s been more than two weeks since the governor lifted most of the restrictions he had put on businesses because of the pandemic. Mississippi has had more than 20,600 cases of the virus and nearly 940 deaths from it.
Bill proposes Mississippi center to boost rural telehealth
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A bill headed to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves would create a new office focused on rural health initiatives. Republican Rep. Sam Mims of McComb says the Mississippi Center for Rural Health Innovation would focus on increasing training opportunities, business development and telehealth services in the rural healthcare system. Health care providers have increasingly turned to telemedicine during the pandemic to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Mims says he hopes federal coronavirus relief money will help pay for the project. Mississippi has received more than $1 billion and is spending part of that on grants to small businesses.
White lawmaker likens abortion limits to civil rights issue
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A white Republican lawmaker invoked the name of a black civil rights leader during debate on a bill to ban abortion based on the race, sex or genetic anomalies of a fetus. Sen. Joey Fillingane talked about a doctor doing a hysterectomy on Fannie Lou Hamer without her permission. Senators passed the abortion limits Wednesday. The House is expected to send the bill soon to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves. He says he favors more limits on abortion. The bill’s supporters say it would prevent abortion for Down syndrome or other conditions. Opponents say it would interfere with private medical decisions.
Ex-Louisiana warden confirmed as Mississippi prisons leader
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi senators have confirmed Burl Cain as the new commissioner of the state prison system. The 77-year-old Cain is a former warden of Angola prison in Louisiana, and he faced ethics questions in that state. A committee unanimously endorsed him Tuesday, and the Senate confirmed him Wednesday. Mississippi’s prison system came under federal investigation early this year after inmates died during outbursts of violence. Lawsuits filed on behalf of inmates say the State Penitentiary at Parchman is dangerous and infested by vermin. Cain says he will fix Parchman.
HEALTH CARE FRAUD-SENTENCE
Mississippi doctor gets 4 years in health care fraud scheme
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — A federal judge has sentenced a Mississippi doctor to four years in prison for his role in a health care fraud scheme. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Tuesday that U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett handed down the sentence against 38-year-old Dr. Shahjahan Sultan, of Madison, Sultan pleaded guilty in November to conspiracy to commit health care fraud after he and co-conspirators were accused in a 15-count indictment of prescribing unnecessary compound pain creams and weight-loss pills to patients for reimbursement from May 2014 to January 2015. News outlets report the court held Sultan responsible for $8 million in intended loss to health care providers. Sulton apologized at sentencing.