HPNM

Defendants Subpoena Phil Bryant For Info on Brett Favre-Linked Drug Company, Others

Attorneys for Austin Smith, a defendant in a civil lawsuit over Mississippi’s massive welfare scandal case, have issued a subpoena to former Gov. Phil Bryant for a broad range of documents and communications related to the alleged misspending of $77 million in federal welfare funds.

The Oct. 7 subpoena includes a request for documents related to Prevacus, a Florida pharmaceutical company caught up in the state investigation that was manufacturing a concussion drug, and its affiliate, PreSolMD. In 2020, Mississippi Today’s Anna Wolfe reported that retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre and Bryant had discussed bringing Prevacus to Mississippi. The South Mississippi sports star was an investor in Prevacus at the time who served as a spokesperson.

Smith is the nephew of John Davis, the former Mississippi Department of Human Services executive director who prosecutors say authorized the misuse of the welfare funds. Davis pleaded guilty to multiple state and federal charges last month in exchange for assisting investigators in ongoing cases.

MDHS is suing Austin Smith for $426,398 in TANF funds that his uncle allegedly transferred to him through two nonprofits where Smith worked as an employee, including MCEC and the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi. In a June 24, 2022, response to the complaint, though, Smith’s attorneys said that “[n]o one ever told Austin Smith the money that he was receiving either by salary or by independent contract were TANF funds.”

Drug Companies Received $2.1 Million

The Mississippi Department of Human Services filed its civil suit in May in order to claw back tens of millions in welfare funds from 38 individuals or entities who allegedly received them, including Favre, Smith, Davis and Prevacus founder Jake W. VanLandingham. Aside from Davis, none of those defendants in the civil suit nor Bryant, who is not named in the civil suit, have been accused of crimes.

“In late December of 2018, Defendant Brett Favre was the largest individual outside investor and holder of corporate stock in Defendant Prevacus, Inc., a private, for-profit biotechnology corporation in which Favre had individually invested over $250,000,” the May 2022 complaint said. “Also in late

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