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Former leader of Mississippi DHS pleads guilty to welfare fraud

John Davis
Posted at 2:41 PM, Sep 22, 2022

The Justice Department announced Thursday that the former director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services pleaded guilty to misusing federal funds intended to help needy families.

The Justice Department said in a press release that John Davis pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy and one count of theft from programs receiving federal funds.

The Associated Press reported that a short time later, he pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy and 13 counts of fraud against the government in state court.

Judge Adrienne Wooten sentenced Davis to a 90-year sentence but suspended 58 of it, ordering him to serve 32 years, the Associated Press reported.

The news outlet reported that Wooten also placed Davis on house arrest until Feb. 2, when he is scheduled to be sentenced on the federal charges.

According to the Justice Department, Davis faces 15 years on federal charges.

According to court documents, the Justice Department said the 54-year-old and his co-conspirators were accused of using money meant to go to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program on themselves.

Davis was also accused of directing the state's DHS to give federal funds to two nonprofits, who then were required to give money to "various entities and individuals for social services that were never provided," according to court documents, the Justice Department said.

According to the Associated Press, the funds were used on retired professional wrestler Brett DiBiase, which included $160,000 for his treatment at a California drug rehab facility and his $250,000 job salary.

The scheme has also involved former NFL quarterback Brett Favre and former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, the Associated Press reported.

Last week, text messages were revealed between Favre and Bryant about welfare money going towards Favre's pet project - a volleyball facility built at the University of Southern Mississippi, the Associated Press reported.

The two have not been charged, but the Associated Press reported that Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens told the news outlet Thursday that they are "looking at all individuals that have been identified" in the text messages.