Brett Favre to be deposed in lawsuit over use of Mississippi federal funds

NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre is scheduled to be deposed in a Mississippi lawsuit that centers on allegations of misuse of state welfare funds, according to court documents.

Favre has been sued along with more than 20 other entities after Mississippi’s state auditor said more than $70 million in TANF welfare funds were misused for reasons that had nothing to with needy families.

Favre is scheduled to be deposed the morning of Oct. 26, according to a filing Monday in state civil court.

The Mississippi Department of Human Services last year sued him and other people or entities over what it says was a “gross misuse” of TANF — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families — funds.

Favre was paid $1.1 million in state funds to make motivational speeches in 2017 and 2018, which he later repaid. State Auditor Shad White said last year that $228,000 in interest is still owed.

“My office looks forward to hearing Mr. Favre’s answers under oath about what happened to Mississippi’s welfare dollars,” White told NBC News on Wednesday.

Favre has not been charged with any crime.

Favre’s lawyer, Bud Holmes, said he did nothing wrong and never understood he was paid with money intended to help poor children.

Favre has also said publicly that he did not know the funds were welfare dollars and that he believes he did nothing wrong.

Last week the U.S. Senate confirmed a new U.S. attorney who will inherit the criminal probe on the misuse of federal welfare funds, after a delay of more than 1 year.

Todd Gee, the new U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, is heading to the state from Washington, D.C., where he has been serving since 2018 as the Deputy Chief of the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, which handles public corruption cases. 

A spokesperson for Shad White’s office said that White has already reached out to Gee by email offering to provide him a briefing on the case as soon as he is sworn in.

John Davis, the former director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, has pleaded guilty to federal and state charges in connection with the welfare scandal. He is also being sued by his former department.

Federal prosecutors said he and others who were charged misused federal funds from TANF and the Emergency Food Assistance Program for their own use. Both are programs for low-income Mississippians.

Davis had his department send funds to two nonprofit organizations, and he then directed them to award contracts for services that were never provided, according to the Justice Department.

The civil suit alleges that he surrounded himself with famous former athletes, including Favre, and that he abused his position to ingratiate himself with them, including with TANF funds.

Among the projects involved in the scandal was a new volleyball facility at a school where Favre’s daughter played the sport.

Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens said Davis and five others criminally charged were involved in “one of the largest embezzlement schemes in Mississippi history.”

Davis was charged with illegal misappropriation of funds, bribery, mail fraud, conspiracy fraud and fraudulent statements, accused of having embezzled millions from the TANF program, Owens said.

He pleaded guilty in September 2022 to federal fraud charges. He has not yet been sentenced in the federal case.

On the day he pleaded guilty in the federal case, Davis pleaded guilty in state court to five counts of conspiracy and 13 counts of fraud.

He was sentenced to 90 years, with all but 32 years suspended, and was placed on house arrest until his federal sentencing.

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