The Mississippi Dept. of Human Services has named Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre in a lawsuit seeking to recoup roughly $24 million in mis spent welfare funds intended to fight poverty in one of the nation’s poorest states.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday and is seeking $3.2 million combined from Favre and Favre Enterprises, Inc. Favre is one of 38 defendants in the lawsuit that also names former pro-wresters Brett and Ted Dibiase and their father Ted Dibiase Sr., who went by “The Million Dollar Man.”
The lawsuit was filed two weeks after a mother and son who ran a nonprofit group in Mississippi pleaded guilty to state criminals charges tied to misspending. Nancy New, 69, and her 39-year old son, Zachary New, agreed to testify against others in what State Auditor Shad White has called Mississippi’s largest public corruption case in the past two decades.
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” during his wrestling career, 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.