NFL legend Brett Favre is returning $1.1 million a non-profit agency paid his company in 2018 that, unbeknownst to him, was apparently tied to the Mississippi Department of Human Services embezzlement scandal.
Special agents from the office of State Auditor Shad White in February arrested John Davis, the former director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services (DHS); former DHS employee Latimer Smith; Dr. Nancy New, owner and Director of the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC) and New Learning, Inc.; Zach New, assistant executive director of MCEC; Anne McGrew, accountant for MCEC; and former professional wrestler Brett DiBiase in connection with a multimillion-dollar embezzlement scheme. The indictments include a range of violations involving fraud and embezzlement.
“Auditors concluded, after an eight-month investigation, that the accused conspired to illegally obtain millions in public funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program administered by DHS. Defendants used a variety of business entities and schemes to defraud the taxpayers,” White said in a press release in February.
The MCEC, through its “Families First” program, apparently paid $1.1 million to Favre’s company, Favre Enterprises, in two installments. The money was supposedly paid for public appearances, promotions, autographs and speaking engagements.
“Today my office has received $500,000 from Brett Favre in repayment for TANF money he was paid through MCEC and a commitment to repay the remainder in installments over the next few months,” White said in a press release Wednesday. “The money will be held in our clearing account for a period and then be sent, in full, to the Mississippi Department of Human Services to be used for TANF-appropriate expenditures. I want to applaud Mr. Favre for his good faith effort to make this right and make the taxpayers and TANF families whole. To date, we have seen no records indicating Mr. Favre knew that TANF was the program that served as the source of the money he was paid.”
“My agent is often approached by different products and brands for me to appear in one way or another,” Favre said Wednesday in a social media post. “This request was no different, and I did numerous ads for Families First.
“I have never received monies for obligations I didn’t meet. To reiterate Auditors White’s statement, I was unaware that the money being dispersed was paid for out of funds not intended for that purpose, and because of that I am refunding the full amount back to the state of Mississippi.
“I have spent my entire career helping children through Favre 4 Hope, donating nearly $10 million to underserved and underprivileged children in Mississippi and Wisconsin.
It has brought a ton of joy to my life, and I would certainly never do anything to take away from the children I have fought to help! I love Mississippi and I would never knowingly do anything to take away from those that need it most.”
The state auditor’s findings released this week show a wide range of inappropriate expenditures by the DHS under Davis’ leadership, including personal investments; the private purchase of luxury properties and high-end vehicles; and payments’ to Davis’ and New’s relatives and associates through numerous schemes.