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Mississippi welfare plan: Former state official pleads guilty in scheme where money was funneled to prominent Mississippians including Brett Favre

Officials from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Hinds County District Attorney’s Office announced that former Mississippi Department of Human Services chief John Davis pleaded guilty to two federal counts and 18 counts of ‘State.

The DOJ said Davis and “his co-conspirators” used federal funds “for their personal use and benefit.”

“Under Davis’s direction, MDHS provided federal funds to two nonprofits and then ordered the two nonprofits to fraudulently award contracts to various entities and individuals for social services that did not were ever provided,” federal prosecutors said in a news release.

On Thursday, the former state official pleaded guilty to two federal counts: one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and theft relating to programs receiving federal funds and one count of theft relating to programs receiving federal funds, the DOJ said. He could be sentenced to five years in prison for conspiracy and 10 years for theft.

Davis also pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy and 13 counts of fraud in Hinds County, District Attorney Jody E. Owens said in a tweet Thursday.

“Davis was one of six defendants arrested and subsequently charged in 2020 in one of the largest embezzlement schemes in Mississippi history,” Owens said.

Auditor says $77m in funds were for welfare program

The vast fraud scheme was uncovered in 2020 by a state audit of federal funds allocated to state agencies. When State Auditor Shad White announced the discovery, he called the scheme “the most egregious expense my staff has seen in their careers.”

The eight-month investigation showed the department gave more than $98 million to two nonprofits: the Mississippi Community Education Center and the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi. Of the $98 million, $94 million was “questioned”, meaning it was definitely mis-spent or auditors were unable to determine if it was legally spent.

The state auditor said about $77 million was for a state welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Last week, White told CNN, “I think what you had was a lot of money sent over from a state agency that decided to funnel that money into a non-profit organization. There just weren’t a ton of controls over how this nonprofit was spending that money until the auditor’s office started digging.

“And then, you know, taking another step forward into the future, I think it’s important that we show the public that there will be consequences to that.”

Favre’s alma mater has a new volleyball arena

Investigators say more than $4 million was used to build a volleyball center supported by Brett Favre at the University of Southern Mississippi, Favre’s alma mater, and where his daughter played the sport at the time. .

The State of Mississippi filed a civil lawsuit against more than 35 people and entities, including Pro Football Hall of Famer, earlier this year.

Text messages were published last week as part of this civil lawsuit brought by lawyers for the non-profit founded by Nancy New, who has already pleaded guilty to charges related to the welfare fund scheme. They showed Favre discussing getting money through New’s nonprofit and expressing his love for Davis after being told about the funding, as well as meetings with Davis and the former governor of Mississippi Phil Bryant on funding.

Bryant and Favre have not been criminally charged with wrongdoing at this time. Bryant is also not named as a defendant in the civil lawsuit.

The former quarterback’s lawyer told CNN that Favre, who retired after the 2010 season and a 20-year NFL career, was unaware the social funds were being used for the volleyball center -ball and that his fundraising efforts for the volleyball center were honorable.

CNN’s Eric Levenson and Devon Sayers contributed to this report.

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