Mississippi Department of Human Services sues Brett Favre, others over welfare misspending

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Mississippi Department of Human Services sues Brett Favre, others over welfare misspending


The Mississippi Department of Human Services on Monday sued retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre, three former pro wrestlers and several other people and businesses to try to recover millions of misspent welfare dollars that were intended to help some of the poorest people in the United States. The lawsuit says the defendants "squandered" more than $20 million in money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families anti-poverty program. The suit was filed less than two weeks after a mother and son who ran a nonprofit group and an education company in Mississippi pleaded guilty to state criminal charges tied to the misspending. Nancy New, 69, and Zachary New, 39, agreed to testify against others in what State Auditor Shad White has called Mississippi's largest public corruption case in the past two decades.

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In early 2020, Nancy New, Zachary New, former Mississippi Department of Human Services executive director John Davis and three other people were charged in state court, with prosecutors saying welfare money had been misspent on items such as drug rehabilitation in Malibu, California, for former pro wrestler Brett DiBiase. DiBiase is a defendant in the lawsuit filed Monday in Hinds County Circuit Court, as are his father and brother, Ted DiBiase Sr. and Ted "Teddy" DiBiase Jr., who also were pro wrestlers.Ted DiBiase Sr. was known as the "The Million Dollar Man" while wrestling. He is a Christian evangelist and a motivational speaker, and he ran Heart of David Ministries Inc., which received $1.7 million in welfare grant money in 2017 and 2018 for mentorship, marketing and other services, according to the lawsuit.
 

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White last year demanded repayment of $77 million of misspent welfare funds from several people and groups, including $1.1 million paid to Favre, who lives in Mississippi. Favre has not been charged with any criminal wrongdoing. White said Favre was paid for speeches but did not show up. Favre has repaid the money, but White said in October that Favre still owed $228,000 in interest. In a Facebook post when he repaid the first $500,000, Favre said he did not know the money he received came from welfare funds. He also said his charity had provided millions of dollars to poor children in Mississippi and Wisconsin.
 

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Months ago, the auditor's office turned over the demands for repayment of misspent welfare money to the Mississippi attorney general's office for enforcement. White said in a statement on Monday that he knew the attorney general's office eventually would file suit. "I applaud the team filing this suit and am grateful the state is taking another step toward justice for the taxpayers," White said. "We will continue to work alongside our federal partners -- who have been given access to all our evidence for more than two years -- to make sure the case is fully investigated."
 

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The lawsuit filed Monday said Favre at one time was the largest individual outside investor and stockholder of Prevacus, a Florida-based company that was trying to develop a concussion drug. The suit said that in December 2018, Favre urged Prevacus CEO Jake VanLandingham to ask Nancy New to use welfare grant money to invest in the company. The suit also said Favre hosted a Prevacus stock sales presentation at his home in January 2019, attended by VanLandingham, Davis, Nancy New, Zach New and Ted DiBiase Jr., and that an agreement was reached to spend "substantial" welfare grant money in Prevacus and later in its corporate affiliate PreSolMD Inc.
 

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The suit said the stock was in the names of Nancy New and Zach New but also was for the financial benefit of Favre, VanLandingham and the two companies. The lawsuit demands repayment of $2.1 million in welfare grant money that was improperly paid to the two companies in 2019. The Associated Press on Monday called a number once listed for Favre Enterprises and a recording said it was no longer in service. Attorney General Lynn Fitch and Gov. Tate Reeves said in a joint statement on Monday: "Our purpose with this suit is to seek justice for the broken trust of the people of Mississippi and recover funds that were misspent."
 

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Davis was chosen to lead the Department of Human Services in 2016 by then-Gov. Phil Bryant -- who, like Reeves, Fitch and White, is a Republican. Davis retired in July 2019, and he is awaiting trial on criminal charges in the misspending. Brett DiBiase pleaded guilty in December 2020 to one count of making a false statement. He said in court documents that he had submitted documents and received full payment for work he did not complete. He agreed to pay $48,000 in restitution, and his sentencing was deferred.

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Mississippi Department of Human Services sues retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre, former pro wrestlers Brett DiBiase, Ted DiBiase Sr. (The Million Dollar Man) and Ted "Teddy" DiBiase Jr. over welfare misspending

 

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Brett Favre welfare scandal: Latest update paints murky picture


Favre is one of 38 defendants who’s been accused of misusing welfare funds intended to alleviate property. No. 4’s role in the scandal is tied to Nancy New and John Davis in his home state of Mississippi. New had access to millions in welfare funds, while Davis allegedly misappropriated said funds in the first place. Federal money meant for New’sTemporary Assistance for Needy Families nonprofit instead went to retired athletes, and their community projects that didn’t necessarily have a positive impact on the less fortunate in the state.


Favre was paid over $1 million for private speaking appearances he allegedly never made. He was also gifted over $5 million for a volleyball facility at Southern Miss. Hattiesburg, Favre’s hometown and also the location of Southern Miss University — has among the highest poverty rates in the state. The former Packers QB also allegedly used state government money to help fund Prevacus, a start-up drug company specializing in concussion treatment. In texts exchanged with New and others, Favre made it clear he knew where said money was coming from, with messages such as “I believe if it’s possible she and John Davis would use federal grant money for Prevacus.” “Nancy (New) said (Christopher Freeze, the new MDHS director) ain’t our type,” Favre allegedly texted. Jake Vanlandingham, the founder of Prevacus, responded thusly: “F***. Well we may need the governor to make him our type.” Favre’s self awareness and willingness to go along with a plan that hurt the most vulnerable in his home state is deplorable, if it’s found true.

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Ex-governor ordered $1.1M welfare payment to Brett Favre, defendant alleges


A defendant in a Mississippi welfare fraud case said in a court document she directed $1.1 million in welfare money to former NFL star Brett Favre at the direction of former Gov. Phil Bryant. Mississippi news outlets report that the accusation, which Bryant denies, is in a filing on behalf of defendant Nancy New, who, with her son, once ran a nonprofit group and an education company in Mississippi. After pleading guilty in April to criminal charges, Nancy New, 69, and her son Zachary New, 39, agreed to testify against others in what the state auditor has called Mississippi's largest public corruption case in the past two decades.

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Ex-governor ordered $1.1M welfare payment to Brett Favre, defendant alleges

A defendant in a Mississippi welfare fraud case said in a court document she directed $1.1 million in welfare money to former NFL star Brett Favre at the direction of former Gov. Phil Bryant. Mississippi news outlets report that the accusation, which Bryant denies, is in a filing on behalf of defendant Nancy New, who, with her son, once ran a nonprofit group and an education company in Mississippi. After pleading guilty in April to criminal charges, Nancy New, 69, and her son Zachary New, 39, agreed to testify against others in what the state auditor has called Mississippi's largest public corruption case in the past two decades. Her court filing is in a civil case filed by the Mississippi Department of Human Services against Mississippi Community Education Center Inc., once run by the New family. In the 29-page document, her attorneys say she was acting at the direction of MDHS officials in the awarding of various contracts and allocation of funds. She specifically mentions Bryant regarding $1.1 million in money paid to Favre "in consideration for Favre speaking at events, keynote speaking, radio and promotional events and business partner development."

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Brett Farve Biography

NFL quarterback Brett Favre attended the University of Southern Mississippi, and after a stellar college career, Favre was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1991 NFL draft. Following his trade to the Green Bay Packers the next year, Favre led the franchise to victory in Super Bowl XXXI. He was also named the league's MVP three years in a row. After shorter stints with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings, Favre retired from football after the 2010 season. Additionally, Favre started every single Packer game from September 20, 1992, to January 20, 2008. Overall, Favre's ironman streak would run an amazing 297 games, an NFL record. Early in his NFL career, Favre developed a dependence on painkillers to bounce back from on-field injuries. A month in rehab wasn't enough to quell the habit, and the QB began ingesting up to 15 Vicodin pills per day even as he was putting up MVP numbers.

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Mississippi fires lawyer who was investigating Brett Favre’s potential connection to $5 million payment to Southern Mississippi


The massive, multi-million-dollar welfare scam in Mississippi is an onion with many lawyers and levels. Some have been explored. Some haven’t been. Now, some may be stopping others from the effort to keep peeling. As reported by Mississippi Today, the state’s welfare department has fired attorney Brad Pigot, who was hired to get to the bottom of the scandal. The firing happened roughly a week after he sent a subpoena to the University of Southern Mississippi aimed at exploring why and how the school received $5 million in welfare funds to build a volleyball stadium. Pigott, in seeking more information about the $5 million payment to USM, was exploring the involvement of former NFL quarterback Brett Favre and former Mississippi governor Phil Bryant, among others. Favre played college football at USM an his daughter played volleyball at the school in 2017 and 2018.

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Will Brett Favre face federal charges in Mississippi welfare fund controversy?


There’s a mess in Mississippi. And it may take the federal government to clean it up. Native son and Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre has landed in a welfare-funds fiasco. From $1.1 million in alleged money for nothing (he denied that he was paid for not doing anything, but he also paid back the money) to business dealing with former governor Phil Bryant to questions regarding $5 million for a new volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi, Favre seems to crocs-deep (and deeper) in the broader scandal. The recent news that Mississippi fired a lawyer who had launched an effort to get to the bottom of the money paid to USM resulted in claims from that lawyer regarding the possibility that the move was part of a politically-motivated effort to conceal certain facts. Enter the federal government, potentially. Deep in Sunday's item from the New York Times reside a couple of paragraphs as to the possibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice taking real action. The FBI has been looking at the scandal for more than two years. And Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson, per the Times, sent a letter this month to Attorney General Merrick Garland nothinging that the DOJ focused on Favre and Bryant.

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Attorney relieved of duties in MDHS welfare scandal


Many Mississippians are still reeling from the news that Attorney Brad Pigott was relieved from his duties amid the ongoing civil lawsuit in the welfare scandal. Pigott was notified on Friday, July 22 that the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) would allow his current contract to expire and would not be entering into another contract. Pigott was initially hired for a one-year term, which was set to expire on July 30, 2022. According to Mississippi Today, the director of MDHS claimed that Pigott was fired because he did not consult with the agency prior to filing the subpoena. However, emails showed draft copies Pigott sent of the subpoena to the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office and the welfare agency’s counsel beforehand.

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Gov. Tate Reeves tried to keep USM out of the welfare scandal. He instead made it the focus.


Gov. Tate Reeves tried to keep the University of Southern Mississippi out of the state’s ongoing welfare scandal. Instead, with a controversial firing, Reeves focused the nation’s attention on the university.Attorney Brad Pigott filed a July 11 subpoey on University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation regarding the $5 million it received to build a volleyball stadium — the single largest known purchase within the state’s massive welfare embezzlement scandal. About a week later, Pigott was fired by Reeves’ welfare agency. Reeves, like most successful statewide politicians, has long courted the sizable Southern Miss voting bloc. The Hattiesburg university is the third largest in Mississippi, and the most recent data published by the USM Alumni Association lists 75,000 active alumni in the state of Mississippi — close to 10% of the state’s total gubernatorial cycle electorate.

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Steal from the poor, give to the rich: Welfare fraud in Mississippi


The law suit that overturned Roe v. Wade was initiated in Mississippi by Thomas E. Dobbs, a state official. Anti-abortion Mississippi politicians hypocritically claim to care about children and families, yet Mississippi has the largest percentage of children living in poverty, the highest infant mortality rate, is poorest state and has been called the worst place to raise a family.

$94 million stolen from the poor
On July 22, the Mississippi State Department of Human Resources fired a lawyer investigating $94 million in misspent welfare funds. The lawyer, J. Brad Pigott, was fired a week after filing a subpoena for records from the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation concerning $5 million in welfare funds the foundation had misappropriated for a volleyball stadium on Southern Miss’s campus.

Under this initiative, money allocated for assisting Mississippi’s poor, was instead spent on:

  • The Nancy New family’s personal investment of $2.15 million for Prevacus, a medical device company;
  • A fitness boot-camp run by former linebacker Paul Lacoste, attended by professionals and state lawmakers free of charge. Some of this money was spent at expensive steakhouses – for a total cost of $1.3 million;
  • A $1.1 million speaking fee to Brett Favre for speeches that he never showed up for;
  • $160,000 to retired professional wrestler Brett Dibiase for personal drug-rehabilitation treatment in Malibu, plus $48,000 for work he did not do for related nonprofits;
  • A $9,500 per month mortgage for former football star Marcus Dupree’s ranch.

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Former Mississippi governor subpoenaed in welfare fraud case


The attorney for a woman who pleaded guilty in what has been described as welfare fraud totaling $77 million has subpoenaed former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant for documents about a multimillion-dollar volleyball center at his alma mater. The University of Southern Mississippi’s athletic foundation got $5 million in welfare money to build the stadium, according to the state auditor. When Nancy New and her son, Zachary New, pleaded guilty to state charges in April, they acknowledged taking part in spending $4 million of welfare money for it.
The subpoena filed Monday by T. Gerry Bufkin, the attorney for Nancy New and her Mississippi Community Education Center, asked for documents reflecting communication about the USM Volleyball Center, its funding or efforts to get money for the center. Bufkin made it and related subpoenas against the foundation, the state attorney general’s office and the state Institutions of Higher Learning available to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

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7 baffling things about Mississippi’s welfare fraud scandal case


It’s now been three years and counting since investigations began into the largest public fraud case in Mississippi history, a case that involves powerful public officials, former pro football stars and pro wrestlers, and tens of millions of dollars. And to date, authorities have provided scant information on those investigations, and judges have tried to stifle those involved. Most public information about the case has come from investigation and reporting by Mississippi Today, often to the chagrin of state officials. One defendant in the case recently filed a subpoena for Bryant’s communication and records involving the volleyball stadium, and has claimed Bryant directed her to spend welfare dollars, including to pay former NFL star Brett Favre $1.1 million in welfare money for speeches he allegedly never gave.

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