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Former Mississippi human services official pleads guilty to state and federal charges in massive welfare fraud scheme, prosecutors say

The U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday that Davis and “his co-conspirators” used federal funds “for personal use and benefit.”

“At Davis’ direction, MDHS provided federal funding to two nonprofits and directed the two nonprofits to fraudulently award contracts for social services to various entities and individuals that were not provided.” DOJ said in a news release.

On Thursday, a former state official pleaded guilty to two federal charges. One is conspiracy to wire fraud and theft with respect to federally funded programs, and he is the other with respect to federally funded programs. He could be sentenced to up to five years in prison for conspiracy and up to 10 years for theft.

Davis also pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy and 13 counts of fraud in Hines County, county district attorney Jody E. Owens said. Tweet Thursday.

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

A huge fraud scheme was uncovered in 2020 by a state audit of federal funds allocated to state agencies. When State Comptroller Shad White released the findings, he called the scheme “the grossest waste my staff has ever seen in their careers.”
State auditors say about $77 million in funds directed toward temporary assistance for needy families, the state welfare program, was misused.

According to investigators, more than $4 million was spent to build a Brett Favre-backed volleyball center at the University of Southern Mississippi, Ferb’s alma mater and where his daughter played the sport at the time.

Earlier this year, Mississippi filed a civil lawsuit against more than 35 individuals and entities, including the former NFL quarterback.

The text messages were made public last week as part of a civil lawsuit filed by attorneys at the nonprofit founded by Nancy New, who pleaded guilty to charges related to the social welfare fund scheme. They discussed getting the money through New’s nonprofit, expressed his love for Davis after being informed of the funding, and said that Davis and the former Mississippi governor about the funding. ‘s Phil Bryant.

Bryant and Favre have not been criminally charged with wrongdoing at this time, and Bryant has not been named as a defendant in a civil suit.

The former quarterback’s attorney told CNN Favre he was unaware welfare funds were being used for the volleyball center.

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

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