The FBI has questioned NFL legend Brett Favre in the Mississippi welfare fund embezzlement scandal.
Mississippi gave Favre $1.1 million in 2017 and 2018 to give speeches. Not only were their quarterbacks not awarded the Hall of Fame, money was withdrawn from federal welfare funds.
Thus, the Mississippi State auditor forced Favre to return the money with interest. Favre has paid $1.1 million, but not the $228,000 interest yet.
Favre’s attorney, Bud Holmes, told NBC News that the FBI questioned Favre in the case. The lawyer denied Favre’s wrongdoing, telling the outlet that Favre did not know that the money he received was diverted from money that was supposed to go to disadvantaged families. Favre was not charged with a crime in the case.
Favre also lobbied for a multi-million dollar grant to a pharmaceutical company to which he was the largest shareholder, and $5 million for a new volleyball arena at the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter was on the team and the elder Favre played college football.
Text messages emerged during the scandal that showed Favre asking an official from the drug company Prevacus, saying: “I don’t know if it’s legal or not but we need to cut it.” The text allegedly referred to former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, and Favre sent a follow-up text saying “Also if it’s legal, I’ll give some of my shares to the governor.”
Bryant denied accepting a charge in the matter.
“As I said before, I will never accept money for a no-show, Mississippi State auditor, ShadWhite, claims,” Favre tweeted in 2021. “I do everything in my power to support this investigation to make things right for the people of Mississippi and I have shared everything I know, which is that I have been paid for three years of my commercials, and I have paid taxes on the money as I should.
“Of course the money was returned because I would not intentionally take money intended to help our neighbors in need, but Chad White’s persistence in pushing this lie that the money was for no-show events is something I cannot remain silent about. Despite all efforts to obtain clarification with the auditor, Except he never agreed to call me or meet with me, but repeatedly turned to the media. To prioritize sensational headlines over the search for truth offends the people of our great nation who deserve answers and a solution.”
Overall, the state has embezzled up to $70 million from federal welfare funds.
John Davis, the former head of the state’s welfare agency, has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery and conspiracy. The state auditor accused Davis of giving “no show” deals to a number of family members, associates and celebrities.
$400,000 was paid to a nephew for programming lessons. The auditor said the nephew could not program. An online coach has earned $300,000 to run a fitness training camp for elected politicians, according to NBC.
Former professional wrestler Ted DiBiase received $3 million from welfare funds. Marcus Dupre, a Mississippi native who starred in Back to Oklahoma in the ’80s, also earned $370,000.
Complicating matters further, Mississippi is the state with the highest poverty rate in the country, and has been notorious for turning down welfare requests from families in need. Citing official figures, NBC said 90 percent of applicants for Temporary Assistance to Families in Need (TANF) were denied funding.
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