Former Official Pleads Guilty In Welfare Fraud Conspiracy Involving Brett Favre

On Thursday, a former top Mississippi state official pleaded guilty to state and federal charges related to an embezzlement scheme that auditors say misused millions of welfare dollars. The scheme involved the redirection of funds from legitimate programs to projects with ties to prominent Mississippians, such as former NFL star Brett Favre.

Former Mississippi Department of Human Services director John Davis pled guilty to two federal counts and 18 state crimes, according to the US Department of Justice and the Office of the District Attorney in Hinds County.

Former Official Pleads Guilty In Welfare Fraud Conspiracy Involving Brett Favre
Former Official Pleads Guilty In Welfare Fraud Conspiracy Involving Brett Favre

More than $70 million in federal welfare monies were allegedly misappropriated, including spending on officials’ personal expenses and by charities on projects unrelated to the welfare program, during the time that Davis, 54, was the director of the Human Services Department, according to state auditors.
In a statement, the DOJ claimed Davis and “his co-conspirators” had “used federal funds for their personal use and gain.”

Federal prosecutors said in a press release that MDHS “at Davis’s direction” diverted money from the federal government to two charities “and then ordered the two charities to falsely award contracts to various firms and persons for social services that were never supplied.”
The former state official pled guilty on Thursday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal dollars, as well as one count of theft concerning programs receiving federal monies. On the conspiracy count, he faces up to five years in jail, and on the theft count, he faces up to ten.

District Attorney Jody E. Owens of Hinds County, Mississippi, tweeted on Thursday that Davis had pleaded guilty to 13 counts of fraud and five counts of conspiracy.
Owens stated that “Davis was one of six Defendants arrested and eventually indicted in 2020 in one of the greatest embezzlement schemes in Mississippi history.”

According to the audit, the welfare program could have used $77 million more.
In 2020, a state audit of federal cash supplied to state entities found the massive fraud operation. Upon making the announcement, State Auditor Shad White referred to the scam as “the most flagrant misspending my staff have seen in their decades.”

After looking into the matter for eight months, it was discovered that the department had donated almost $98 million to two charities: the Mississippi Community Education Center and the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi. The audits found that $94 million (or 94% of the total) was “questioned,” meaning it was either clearly misappropriated or the auditors were unable to ascertain if it was spent properly.

The state auditor estimates $77 million went missing from the state assistance program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
White told CNN last week, “I think what you had was a lot of money being pushed via a state entity that opted subsequently to transfer that money to a nonprofit. Until the auditor’s office began investigating, there were not many safeguards to ensure that the charity was properly allocating its funds.

In addition, I believe it is crucial that we demonstrate to the general people that there will be future repercussions for this action.
New volleyball facility at Favre’s alma mater
FBI agents have uncovered evidence that more than $4 million was used to construct a volleyball center at Brett Favre’s alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter competed at the time.

Earlier this year, the state of Mississippi sued more than 35 individuals and organizations, including a Pro Football Hall of Famer, in a civil court.
Lawyers for the charity formed by Nancy New, who has previously pleaded guilty to charges relating to the welfare funding scheme, published text conversations as part of that civil complaint last week. They showed Favre meeting with Davis and former Mississippi governor Phil Bryant to discuss the financing Favre received through New’s nonprofit, as well as Favre discussing the funding with Davis and professing his affection for Davis.

There are currently no criminal charges against Bryant or Favre. The lawsuit does not include Bryant as a defendant.
CNN was informed by a counsel for the former quarterback that Favre, who retired from the NFL following the 2010 season and a 20-year career, was unaware that welfare monies were being utilized for the volleyball facility and that he thought his fundraising efforts for the center were commendable.

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