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Notes from the cops and courts beat

By Staff
Aug. 19, 2001
Here's a look at what happened this week at the Lauderdale County Courthouse. On the first floor, Tax Collector Stanley Shannon was preparing for a delinquent tax sale. On the second and third floors, Circuit Court officials and District Attorney Bilbo Mitchell's staff worked to finish up the current court session. The 10th District Circuit Court moves next week to Clarke County.
Distinguished former
judge, senator dies
If it is true that the United States is distinguished by its judicial and legislative systems, then William J. Gunn was a full participant in the American Experience. The former Lauderdale County Circuit Court judge and Mississippi state senator died Tuesday.
Lester Williamson Sr., himself a former Circuit Court judge and district attorney, grew up with Gunn.
Funeral services for Gunn were held Friday at Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church.
Delinquent tax sale set for Aug. 27
On Monday, The Meridian Star will make second publication of the tax collectors' list of properties to be auctioned at an Aug. 27 delinquent tax sale.
A number of parcels owned by Dr. Walter Ocampo Anderson are included in the 16-page listing, but Shannon says he doesn't know if they will actually be included in the sale.
Anderson was charged in 1998 with six counts of Medicaid fraud. Attorney General Mike Moore alleged that Anderson falsely billed Medicaid for $3.75 million between September 1997 and October 1998.
All of Anderson's personal and business property was seized. The injunctions against some parcels have been lifted in order to allow Citizens National Bank to foreclose including the doctor's former home on Lindley Road and a large house on 29th Avenue where he planned to open a home for troubled girls.
Eight parcels owned by Anderson will appear in Monday's listing, including the Lindley Road and 29th Avenue properties and the former site of The Children's Clinic at 5117 Highway 493.
Shannon said Friday he has never run into a situation like this.
Meanwhile, the doctor is practicing in another state and his attorneys report that negotiations are under way with the attorney general's office in the criminal case.
Most hated man in the
nursing home industry
A story in Friday's edition of The Meridian Star reported that attorney James Wilkes of Tampa, Fla., is known as the "most hated man in the nursing home industry."
What you may not have been able to tell is that this is no casual dislike we're talking about here. People who find themselves at odds with Wilkes are not shy about their opinions. A search of the Internet finds Wilkes described as: "a migratory predator," "Satan," "Beelzebub" and the "Antichrist."
His firm, Wilkes &McHugh, specializes in nursing home abuse cases with clients in 12 states and multi-million dollar awards over the last decade in Florida, Arkansas and California.
He is expanding his practice into Mississippi now, and has already filed 30 to 40 lawsuits against nursing homes statewide. Three of those were in Lauderdale County. Wilkes said in a recent interview that he hopes to open a fully-staffed office in Jackson by October.
Think what you will about Wilkes &McHugh, but take them seriously. I spent a couple days reading about the firm. In each state Wilkes has gone after, there was a newspaper story early on in the process that sounded like the one we ran Friday. The next ones announced multi-million dollar awards in conservative places like Arkansas.
one final note
Bill and Anita Jo Ross, co-owners of Fiddle Inc., are suing Lauderdale County Tax Collector Stanley Shannon and the city of Meridian to recover about $10,000 they paid for property bought at a delinquent tax sale in August 1997.
The parcel had a large special assessment against it that Anita Jo Ross said she did not notice until she received the tax deed. The couple wants a refund.
The first court date was canceled earlier this month after Shannon spoke to several members of the qualified jury pool as they exited the second floor courtroom on the day before the trial. The new court date is Oct. 3.
I ran into defense attorney Rick Barry and asked him jokingly if the city might not be considering refunding the money after all just to make Bill and Anita Jo Ross go away. He did not smile as he answered, "Absolutely not."
In other Fiddle Inc. news, the Mississippi Supreme Court has denied the city of Meridian's "petition for interlocutory appeal" which means they don't care to get involved in the Ross' lawsuit.
Suzanne Monk is managing editor of The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3229, or e-mail her at smonk@themeridianstar.com.