John Davis, former Mississippi welfare agency leader, pleads guilty, agrees to testify against others
A former director of Mississippi's welfare agency pleaded guilty Thursday to federal and state charges in a conspiracy to misspend tens of millions of dollars that were intended to help needy families in one of the poorest states in the United States -- part of the largest public corruption case in the state's history. In federal court, John Davis pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of theft from programs receiving federal funds. In state court a short time later, he pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy and 13 counts of fraud against the government. Davis, 54, was an influential figure in a scandal that has produced criminal charges against several people, including pro wrestler Ted DiBiase, known as the "million dollar man,' whose Christian ministry was ordered to repay more than $720,000 in misspent welfare money. The scandal also has raised questions about retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre and former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. Favre and Bryant have not been charged in the welfare misspending case.
Brett Favre pressed for facility funding despite being told legality in question, court filing says
NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre continued to press Mississippi state officials for help in paying for new sports facilities at the University of Southern Mississippi months after being told by then-Gov. Phil Bryant that the misuse of state welfare funds could be illegal, according to text messages in a court filing. Favre, who has not been charged in Mississippi's massive welfare scandal, has said through attorneys that he did not know the origin of the funds.
On July 28, 2019, Bryant texted Favre that the founder of a nonprofit who paid him "has some limited control over Federal Funds in the form of Grants for Children and adults in the Low Income Community." "Use of these funds [is] tightly controlled," Bryant wrote, according to the filing. "Any improper use could result in violation of Federal Law. Auditors are currently reviewing the use of these funds."
According to the filing, Favre texted Bryant on Sept. 4, 2019, after a meeting they and others had to discuss requesting an additional $1.8 million to $2 million for programs at the new facility. "We obviously need your help big time and time is working against us," Favre wrote. "And we feel that your name is the perfect choice for this facility and we are not taking No for an answer! You are a Southern Miss Alumni, and folks need to know you are also a supporter of the University."
Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre's charity donated to University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation while he pushed for state funds
Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre's charity, Favre 4 Hope, donated more than $130,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation from 2018 to 2020, according to tax records obtained by ESPN on Wednesday. During this same period, Favre was trying to raise money for a new volleyball stadium at the university, where he played football and his daughter was on the volleyball team. Funds for that stadium are under scrutiny in the largest public fraud case in Mississippi state history. Between 2011 and 2017, the year his daughter enrolled at USM, Favre 4 Hope gave the Athletic Foundation a combined $47,900. (Tax records were not available for 2016.) In 2015, when Favre's daughter played volleyball at Oak Grove High School, his foundation gave the school's booster club $60,000, tax records show. In 2013, the booster club received $10,000 from Favre 4 Hope.
Mississippi football legend Marcus Dupree denies allegations of wrongdoing in welfare fraud case
Marcus Dupree, who rose to fame in Mississippi and beyond after a brief but impressive football career that became the subject of an ESPN documentary, is speaking out about his alleged role in a sprawling welfare fraud case that has also entangled Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Brett Favre and dozens of others. A lawsuit filed in May by the Mississippi Department of Human Services alleges Dupree was illegally paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal welfare money that was intended for the state's neediest families. On Wednesday, Dupree denied wrongdoing in an interview with ESPN. But his name didn't appear with any frequency in the national media until the results of a state audit in Mississippi became public and a lawsuit was then filed by the state in May against Dupree, his foundation and dozens of other defendants. According to the lawsuit, from August 2017 to September 2019 Dupree was paid $371,000 from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds.
Brands are quiet quitting Brett Favre amid welfare scandal
At least two brands appear to be quietly distancing themselves from Brett Favre in the aftermath of his connection to a welfare scandal in Mississippi. Favre and the pharma startup the Hall of Fame quarterback was associated with are linked to millions in diverted funds, according to court filings and media reporters. The latest allegations — related to $5 million of misused welfare money that went to build a volleyball complex at the college where his daughter played — were reported by Mississippi Today on Sept. 13.