Ex-wrestler pleads guilty again in Mississippi welfare fraud

JACKSON, Skip. (AP) — A former pro wrestler pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal cost connected to misspending of welfare cash that was intended to assist needy people in Mississippi, a person of the poorest states in the U.S.

Brett DiBiase faces up to five several years in federal prison and a $250,000 fantastic for his plea to conspiracy to defraud the federal govt.

He pleaded responsible in December 2020 to a point out demand of making false representations to defraud the federal government. State sentencing was delayed, and DiBiase has been cooperating with condition and federal investigators on the lookout at other individuals in the scenario, Hinds County District Lawyer Jody Owens said.

Owens and Mississippi Auditor Shad White introduced DiBiase’s federal responsible plea.

“I applaud our federal associates for continuing to go after federal charges for each and just about every particular person accountable for thieving from Mississippi’s most needy and susceptible citizens,” Owens stated Thursday. “This situation is significantly from more than and each the condition of Mississippi and the U.S. govt will go on to pursue all those people involved in this fraud, no matter of their posture or standing.”

White reported the auditor’s place of work will carry on to aid prosecutors as they make your mind up who will encounter legal fees.

“I’m delighted that our get the job done uncovering the greatest public fraud in condition record continues to consequence in convictions,” White said.

John Davis, who was Mississippi Office of Human Providers government director from 2016 to mid-2019, pleaded guilty previous September to point out and federal prices tied to misspending of income by way of the Short term Aid for Needy Families Application.

Davis’ condition court docket fees were being mainly tied to welfare funds used on DiBiase, like $160,000 for the former wrestler’s drug rehabilitation in Malibu, California.

Davis, DiBiase and four other individuals were indicted on condition costs in the welfare misspending case in February 2020.

Two of those indicted, a mother and son who ran a nonprofit corporation and an education enterprise, pleaded guilty in April 2022 to condition prices of misusing welfare money, which include on lavish gifts such as the 1st-course airfare for Davis. Nancy New and Zachary New ran the corporation that funneled welfare income for DiBiase’s drug rehab. They agreed to testify versus many others.

The welfare scandal has ensnared substantial-profile figures, which include retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre, who life in Mississippi. Favre has not confronted prison costs but is one particular of additional than three dozen defendants in a civil lawsuit that the latest Human Products and services director submitted to check out to recover some of the welfare funds wasted though Davis was in demand.

Welfare dollars served fund pet projects of the rich, like $5 million for a volleyball arena that Favre supported at his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, the condition auditor stated. Favre’s daughter played volleyball at the university commencing in 2017.