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Keep Favre in suit to recover welfare cash, Mississippi asks

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports | March 18, 2023 at 4:51 a.m.
FILE - Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre speaks to the media in Jackson, Miss., Oct. 17, 2018. A Mississippi agency says a judge should reject Favre’s requests to be removed from a lawsuit that seeks to recover millions of dollars in misspent welfare money. Favre’s attorneys have sought to get the Hall of Fame quarterback dismissed as one of more than 30 defendants in the civil suit that the state Department of Human Services filed in 2022. Kaytie Pickett, an attorney for the department, says in court papers filed Monday, March 13, 2023, that Favre failed to make solid legal arguments and a judge should ignore his “diatribe.” (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. -- A judge should ignore a request from retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre to be removed from a civil lawsuit that seeks to recover misspent welfare money in Mississippi's largest-ever public corruption case, the state Department of Human Services said this week.

Millions of federal welfare dollars were intended to help low-income Mississippi residents -- some of the poorest people in the country -- but were instead squandered on projects supported by wealthy or well-connected people, including projects backed by Favre, prosecutors say.

Favre said in October he did nothing wrong and had been "unjustly smeared" in news coverage of the welfare misspending. No criminal charges have been brought against the NFL Hall of Famer.

Favre's attorneys argue the Department of Human Services is suing him to deflect from the department's role in allowing fraud, and have filed two sets of papers urging a Mississippi judge to dismiss Favre from the suit.

Kaytie Pickett, an attorney for the department, responded that Favre's attorneys failed to provide solid legal arguments to get their client out of the lawsuit.

The Department of Human Services last year sued Favre and more than three dozen other people or businesses.

The suit says money was misspent on things such as $5 million to help build a volleyball arena that Favre supported at his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi where his daughter played the sport, and $1.7 million toward development of a concussion treatment drug by a company in which Favre was an investor.

Christi Webb, who stepped down this week as director of the north Mississippi-based Family Resource Center, appeared before U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves in Jackson. Court documents show Webb pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that could send her to prison for up to 10 years.

A sentencing hearing for Webb has been set for June 16.

John Davis, who was Mississippi Department of Human Services executive director from 2016 to mid-2019, pleaded guilty in September to state and federal charges tied to misspending money through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. He has not yet been sentenced.

Nancy New and Zachary New, a mother and son who ran another nonprofit organization and an education company, pleaded guilty in April 2022 to state charges of misusing welfare money, including on lavish gifts such as first-class airfare for Davis.

Favre has repaid $1.1 million he received for speaking fees from the News' organization, which spent Temporary Assistance to Needy Families money with approval from the Department of Human Services under Davis. Mississippi Auditor Shad White said Favre, who lives in Mississippi, never showed up to give those speeches.

The News' organization also funneled welfare money to be used on drug rehab for Brett DiBiase, a former pro wrestler and friend of Davis who has pleaded guilty to state and federal fraud charges.

Information for this article was contributed by Emily Wagster Pettus and Michael Goldberg of The Associated Press.

Print Headline: Keep Favre in suit to recover welfare cash, Mississippi asks


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