The Mississippi Department of Human Services filed a lawsuit against ex-NFL quarterback Brett Favre this week, as well as three former professional wrestlers and several others. The human services department alleges the defendants misspent millions of welfare dollars that were supposed to help some of the poorest people in America.
The civil lawsuit states the defendants wasted at least $20 million in funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families anti-poverty program. Ex-Department of Human Services Director John Davis is also named in the lawsuit.
Davis is alleged to have worked with nonprofit groups to wrongly distribute funds that were given by the national Temporary Assistance For Needy Families program that was intended to help the poor in Mississippi.
Lawsuit Filed After Mother And Son Plead Guilty To Welfare Fraud
The lawsuit was filed 14 days after a mother and son in Mississippi who ran an education and nonprofit group in the state pleaded guilty to state welfare fraud charges.
Nancy New, 69, and Zachary New, 39, agreed to provide testimony against others in what the state’s auditor said was the biggest public corruption case in Mississippi in the last 20 years.
At the beginning of 2020, Nancy New and her son were charged in Mississippi state court, and prosecutors said welfare money had been misused on drug rehabilitation for ex-professional wrestler Brett DiBiase.
DiBiase is one of the defendants in the civil lawsuit filed this week, as is his father and brother – Ted DiBase Senior and Ted DiBase Jr. Both men were professional wrestlers.
Ted Sr. was known during his wrestling days as The Million Dollar Man. He is a motivational speaker and Christian preacher who operated the Heart of David Ministries. That organization received $1.7 million in welfare funds in 2017 and 2018 for marketing, mentorship, and related services.
State Auditor Demanded $77 Million in Repayment in 2021
State Auditor Shad White demanded repayment of $77 million of misused welfare funds from several organizations and people, including $1 million from Favre, who resides in Mississippi. However, Favre has not been criminally charged.
White told the press that Favre was compensated for speeches but didn’t appear. Favre paid the money back, but last year, the state auditor added that Favre owed about $225,000 in interest.
Favre stated in a Facebook post that he wasn’t aware the money he received was Mississippi welfare funds. Also, he said his charity gave millions of dollars to at-risk children in Wisconsin and Mississippi.
Several months ago, the state auditor’s office informed the state’s attorney general’s office that the welfare money had been misspent. White said this week that he knew the AG’s office would file a lawsuit eventually.
The state auditor said that he appreciates the AG team filing the lawsuit and the state is trying to gain justice for the taxpayers. He said his office will continue to work with the federal authorities to ensure the welfare fraud case is thoroughly investigated.
Lawsuit Claims Favre Tried To Get Welfare Money Invested In Florida Company
The lawsuit that was filed this week claims that Favre was once the biggest outside investor in Prevacus, a company in Florida that tried to create a concussion drug.
According to lawsuit documents, in 2018, Favre tried to get the Prevacus CEO Jake VanLandingham to ask the News to obtain welfare money to invest in the organization.
The lawsuit also stated that Favre had a Prevacus stock sale event at his house at the start of 2019. The event was attended by Nancy New, Zach New, Ted DiBase, Jr., and VanLandingham. An agreement was reached to spend millions of welfare grant money on the company.
The lawsuit stated the stock was in the names of Zach New and Nancy New. But Favre also benefitted financially from the investment. The lawsuit demands that $2.1 million of welfare grant money be repaid that was given improperly to Prevacus in 2019.
The state’s attorney general and governor stated this week in a press conference that the purpose of the lawsuit is to obtain justice for the taxpayers of Mississippi and to recover money that was misspent.
Davis was picked to lead the Human Services Department in 2016 by the governor. However, he retired in 2019 and has welfare fraud criminal charges pending. He also faces charges of embezzlement and bribery.
Specifically, the state alleges that Davis boosted federal grants to the New’s nonprofit group Mississippi Comunity Education Center in exchange for money paid to the rehab facility where DiBase received drug treatment.
State prosecutors say the drug rehab funds, about $40,000 per month for four months, benefitted Davis because he said he would pay the bill from his own funds. In effect, the organization covered his debts. Davis pleaded not guilty to the charges in April and faces 150 years in prison if he is convicted.
Phone text messages between New and Davis show how he told New to pay for the drug rehab. State prosecutors say the News used welfare grant money to make the rehab payments.
Davis and New have argued that their payments to the drug rehab center were an attempt for the welfare department to model the program.
The state welfare agency uses regular drug testing on their welfare clients, which can make it difficult to be approved. New’s organization got tens of millions from the Department of Human Services to run a drug treatment program that said it would treat people holistically.