Attempted Valentine's Day rapist just out of prison on similar convictions

Maurice Vernado Pugh
Maurice Vernado Pugh

GULFPORT -- A Laurel man accused in the kidnapping and attempted rape of a woman who was leaving a Gulfport nightclub early Valentine's morning had recently been released from prison. He was on probation on two rape convictions and a kidnapping conviction.

Police say the woman was leaving the BluEnvy nightclub early Sunday with her cousin, who flagged down a patrol officer.

Police arrested Maurice Vernado Pugh, 39, after a brief foot pursuit.

He was on probation on three felony convictions prosecuted in Jones County -- two counts of rape and one count of kidnapping, the Harrison County jail docket shows.

He was convicted on those charges in 2007, served time in prison and had been released on probation Jan. 13, said Grace Fisher, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Gulfport police arrested Pugh on charges of kidnapping, attempted rape, resisting arrest by flight and possession of marijuana. The latter two are misdemeanors.

The incident was reported about 3 a.m. Sunday as a kidnapping in progress in the area of 26th Avenue and 29th Street, Sgt. Damon McDaniel said.

Police learned the woman and her cousin had left the BluEnvy nightclub and were walking to their vehicle when a man grabbed the woman by her throat and dragged her off the road, Pugh is accused of trying to rape her but he ran off when he saw the patrol officer, McDaniel said.

Harrison County Justice Court Judge Brandon Ladner set the two felony bonds at a total of $200,000 but is ineligible to post bond because of his felony probation warrants.

He is held with no bond for the Mississippi Department of Corrections at the Harrison County jail.