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Wrestler Brett DiBiase Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge in Mississippi Welfare Scandal

Retired WWE wrestler Brett DiBiase pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States for his role in Mississippi’s massive welfare-fraud scandal. He could face up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

“I applaud our federal partners for continuing to pursue federal charges for each and every individual responsible for stealing from Mississippi’s most needy and vulnerable citizens,” Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “As I have said before, this case is far from over and both the state of Mississippi and the U.S. government will continue to pursue all those involved in this fraud, regardless of their position or standing.”

Owens, along with State Auditor Shad White, first brought the ongoing welfare scandal to light in early February 2020. Since then, the story has attracted wide state and local media coverage.

Prosecutors say that under former Mississippi Department of Human Services Director John Davis, who pleaded guilty on state and federal charges in September 2022, the agency improperly doled out over $77 million in welfare funds for other purposes.

After DiBiase’s guilty plea Thursday, Mississippi State Auditor Shad White issued a statement in which he vowed to “continue to assist the prosecutors, who decide who face(s) criminal charges.”

Brett DiBiase was one of six people that state prosecutors arrested when news of the scandal first broke in February 2020, along with Davis and Nancy New, a nonprofit operator accused of using her nonprofit to funnel Temporary Assistance For Needy Family dollars toward illicit causes. New pleaded guilty to multiple charges last year. No one has served prison time to date.

Among numerous other allegations at the time of the arrests, Owens and White alleged that Davis and ex-MDHS employee Latimer Smith had “(manufactured) documents to enrich Brett DiBiase using TANF money” and paid DiBiase TANF funds “for teaching classes about drug abuse,” even though DiBiase was “in a luxury rehabilitation for his own drug use in California at the time and did not perform the services.”

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