Category Archives: TX AG

Making A Difference For Our Elders

.jpg photo of Texas Attorney General Logo
Texas Attorney General Logo

AG Paxton Issues Consumer Alert on
Social Security Scam

AUSTIN, TX  –  Attorney General Ken Paxton today warned Texans to beware of calls from scam artists pretending to be with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and attempting to fool unsuspecting people into giving them their Social Security number and money.

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received a large number of complaints from consumers targeted by the Social Security scam.  Crooks tell the would-be victim that their Social Security number has been used in a crime and they must pay a fee to reactivate it or to get a new number.  During the call, the person is asked to give out their Social Security number.

In other instances of the scam, individuals are told that their bank accounts have been seized and they should transfer their money to the caller for safe keeping, or that they could lose their Social Security benefits because their Social Security number was used to apply for credit cards.

Attorney General Paxton’s Consumer Protection Division reminds Texans that the Social Security Administration will never call and ask for a person’s Social Security number, request money, or threaten someone’s benefits.  Be sure to follow these tips from the FTC:

  • Never give your Social Security number to anyone who contacts you.  Don’t confirm the last 4 digits.  And don’t give a bank account or credit card number to anybody who contacts you asking for it.
  • Don’t be fooled by caller ID showing the SSA’s real phone number (1-800-772-1213).  Computers make it easy for scam artists to show any number on caller ID, a technique called spoofing.
  • Remember that anyone who calls and tells you to wire money, pay with a gift card or send cash is a scammer, no matter who they say they are.

If you get an unsolicited call from someone who claims to be from the SSA, get off the phone.  Then call the real SSA at 1-800-772-1213.  Or, if you’ve detected a scam, file an online complaint with the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint or with the Texas attorney general’s office at:
https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/cpd/file-a-consumer-complaint

HHS-CPS Violating Freedom Of Religion

.jpg photo graphic of HHS violation of freedom of religion
HHS(CPS) is violating Our guaranteed Freedom Of Religion

AG Paxton Urges HHS to Repeal Rule that
Violates the Religious Liberty of Texas’
Faith-Based Foster Care and Adoption
Service Providers

AUSTIN, TX  –  In a letter today to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Attorney General Ken Paxton urged prompt repeal of an Obama-era rule that violates the religious liberty of Texas’ faith-based foster care and adoption service providers by requiring them to abandon their core religious beliefs as a condition of receiving federal funding under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act.

“People of faith should not be required to forfeit their sincerely held religious beliefs as a condition of helping Texas’ most vulnerable children,” Attorney General Paxton said.  “We’re asking HHS to repeal its unlawful rule on child welfare funding or, alternatively, grant the state of Texas an exemption from the rule.”

Attorney General Paxton, in his letter to Lynn Johnson, the assistant secretary at HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, pointed out that the rule on Title IV-E funding exceeds statutory authority, violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and conflicts with Texas law.

Last session, the Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 3859, which protects the religious liberty of child welfare organizations and prohibits the state from granting or refusing to grant funding to such organizations because of their religious beliefs, including the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Texas’ share of Title IV-E funding is administered by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) through its Child Protective Services, which works with secular and faith-based communities to find loving homes for children removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect.

Some faith-based providers who receive Title IV-E funding through DFPS require potential foster care or adoptive parents to share a particular religious faith, be a member of a congregation, or agree to the provider’s statement of faith.  But the federal rule requires those organizations to abandon their deeply held religious beliefs as a condition of receiving funding. 

TX AG CEU Roundsup Another Purveyor Of Child Porn

.jpg photo of Texas Attorney General Logo
Texas Attorney General Logo

AG Paxton’s Child Exploitation Unit Arrests
McLennan County Man for Possession of
Child Pornography

AUSTIN, TX  –  Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that the Child Exploitation Unit (CEU) of his office arrested 59-year-old Eddie Dwayne Pratt, of Robinson, on three counts of possession of child pornography, a third-degree felony.

Acting on a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children® (NCMEC), investigators from the attorney general’s office searched Pratt’s home, where they discovered images of child pornography.

They also confiscated multiple digital storage devices, which will be examined by the Digital Forensics Unit of the attorney general’s office.

During questioning, Pratt admitted to possessing child pornography.

Attorney General Paxton’s office works to protect children by using the latest technology to track down some of the most profoundly evil predators online.

The Child Exploitation Unit proactively seeks out and arrests predators who commit crimes against children using technology and online sources.

Attorney General Paxton urges all parents and teachers to become aware of the risks our children face on the internet and take steps to help ensure their children’s safety.

If you suspect someone is producing or downloading child pornography you can report it to NCMEC

For more information on cyber safety, please visit:
https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/initiatives/cyber-safety/

TX State And County “Posse” Roundup And Put Away Sex Trafficker

.jpg photo of Texas Attorney General Office Logo
Texas Attorney General’s Office Logo

AG’s Office, Jefferson County DA Bob Wortham Obtain Conviction, 60-Year Prison Sentence in Sex Trafficking Case Involving Women and Underage Victims

AUSTIN, TX  –  As a result of a joint effort by his office and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that a jury found Johnny Ray Matlock guilty on charges of continuous trafficking of persons, a first-degree felony.  Matlock waived his right to appeal and accepted a 60-year prison sentence, which is the equivalent of a life sentence in Texas.

 Attorney General Paxton’s Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime section, led by Deputy Criminal Chief Kirsta Melton, was invited by District Attorney Wortham to partner with his office on Jefferson County’s first human trafficking case.  Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Pipkin worked with Melton on the trial.

“This collaboration between my office and the district attorney’s office in Jefferson County is an outstanding example of how we’re fighting to ensure that justice is served upon those who commit the despicable crime of sex trafficking,” Attorney General Paxton said.  “I want to thank the prosecutors and law enforcement agents for their efforts on this investigation to put away a despicable human trafficker.”

Last March, a grand jury indicted Matlock, of Silsbee, on charges he used social media and apps to recruit two underage girls and two women, causing them to be victims of sex trafficking.  In court today, Matlock also agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge of possession of a firearm.  A 10-year sentence for that will run concurrently with his sentence on human trafficking.

In July, a joint effort by the attorney general’s human trafficking unit, the Travis County District Attorney’s office and the Texas Department of Public Safety culminated in a 40-year prison sentence for the trafficker of a 14-year-old girl.

Attorney General Paxton has made combating human trafficking a top priority.  Two years ago, he launched his office’s Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime section, which prosecutes human traffickers across the state.  In April, the section’s prosecution of Backpage.com resulted in the company pleading guilty to human trafficking in Texas and its CEO, Carl Ferrer, pleading guilty to money laundering.  The attorney general’s office also assisted the U.S. Department of Justice with permanently shutting down the website, which was considered the largest online sex trafficking marketplace in the world.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Paxton unveiled a powerful training video to teach Texans how to spot and report suspected human trafficking activity. “Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking” is available for viewing online at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/initiatives/human-trafficking

Don’t Victimize Children In Texas

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Kedrick Nelms, 28, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for sex trafficking a 14-year-old girl.

AG Paxton’s Office, Travis County DA
Margaret Moore Obtain Conviction
in Child Sex Trafficking Case

AUSTIN, TX  –  Resulting from a joint effort by his office, the Travis County District Attorney’s office, and the Texas Department of Public Safety, Attorney General Ken Paxton today announced that a Travis County District Court sentenced Kedrick Nelms, 28, to 40 years in prison for sex trafficking a 14-year-old girl.

On June 20, a Travis County jury found Nelms guilty of trafficking of persons and of compelling prostitution of a minor, both first-degree felonies.  Nelms opted to have the judge determine his punishment.

The attorney general’s Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime section, led by Deputy Criminal Chief Kirsta Melton and Assistant Attorney General Melissa Holman, assisted the prosecution of the case at the invitation of Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore.  They were joined at the trial by Travis County Assistant District Attorney Josh Reno.

The Texas Department of Public Safety conducted the investigation that led to the successful prosecution of Nelms.

“As a result of this successful, first-of-its-kind partnership between my office, the Travis County District Attorney’s office and the Texas Department of Public Safety, a dangerous and despicable human trafficker has been brought to justice,” Attorney General Paxton said.  “I’m grateful to the prosecutors and our law enforcement partners for their tireless work on this collaborative effort.  My office will continue to work to protect victims from sex trafficking and prosecute those who profit from the exploitation of human beings.”

Travis County District Attorney Moore said: “I commend the attorney general and his assistants for this outstanding prosecution.  I am proud to have partnered in this exemplary collaboration.”

Nelms used a social media app called Tagged to lure his underage victim into a relationship, then introduced her to his girlfriend, Kirsten Violette, who conspired with Nelms to traffick the girl for prostitution in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio in June 2016.

It took a jury one hour to return guilty verdicts on both charges against Nelms.

Separately, Violette pleaded guilty this week to trafficking of persons and faces a punishment hearing in August.

Attorney General Paxton has made combating human trafficking a top priority.  Two years ago, he launched his office’s Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime section, which prosecutes human traffickers across the state.

In April, the section’s prosecution of Backpage.com resulted in the company pleading guilty to human trafficking in Texas and its CEO, Carl Ferrer, pleading guilty to money laundering.

The attorney general’s office also assisted the U.S. Department of Justice with permanently shutting down the website, which was considered the largest online sex trafficking marketplace in the world.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Paxton unveiled a powerful training video to teach Texans how to spot and report suspected human trafficking activity.

Be the One in the Fight Against Human Trafficking” is available for viewing online at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/human-trafficking