Ex-Mississippi Welfare Leader Indicted On Federal Conspiracy, Fraud Charges

John Davis, the former Mississippi Department of Human Services director who presided as a massive welfare fraud scandal unfolded, is facing multiple federal conspiracy, fraud and embezzlement charges relating to the misuse of funds meant for poor families with children.

U.S. District Magistrate Judge F. Keith Ball unsealed the Sept. 15 indictment in United States v. John Davis on Wednesday, revealing allegations that he conspired with four unnamed conspirators “to commit certain offenses against the United States.” The indictment says he and the co-conspirators sought to “obtain through fraud and to divert federal funds intended for needy families and low-income individuals for their personal use and benefit.”

Since 2020, Davis has faced multiple state charges in Mississippi after an investigation found that MDHS misspent more than $77 million in welfare funds under his reign. That includes $1.1 million in Temporary Assistance For Needy Families funds that a non-profit organization, the Mississippi Community Education Center, gave to retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre for speeches that State Auditor Shad White says he never gave. 

MCEC’s founder and former leader, Nancy New, and her son, Zach New, plead guilty to multiple charges in the welfare fraud scandal earlier this year and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Text messages between her, Brett Favre and former Gov. Phil Bryant show that they discussed using TANF funds to build a volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi. 

In one July 24, 2017, text message after a meeting between Nancy New, Brett Favre, John Davis, and others, Favre appears to indicate that Davis agreed to use of MDHS funds for the volleyball stadium. “John mentioned 4 million and not sure if I heard him right. Very big deal and can’t thank you enough. 😊,” reads the text message which appeared in a recent court filing.

In his plea agreement on April 22, 2022, Zach New claimed that he “acted with” his mother “and others, at their direction, to disguise the USM construction project as a ‘lease’ as a means of circumventing the limited purpose grant’s strict prohibition against ‘brick and mortar’ construction projects in violation of

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