Ex-Director of Mississippi Welfare Agency Pleads Guilty in Brett Favre-Connected Scandal, Agrees to Testify

John Davis is accused of helping funnel millions of dollars in welfare money to projects, including the construction of a sports facility at Favre's alma mater.

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The walls may be closing in on Brett Favre.

ESPN reports John Davis, the former director of Mississippi’s Department of Human Services, has pleaded guilty to state and federal charges for his alleged role in a welfare scandal. As part of his plea deal, the 54-year-old agreed to testify against others in the case, which could include Favre, 52.

Davis is accused of misdirecting millions of dollars in federal welfare funds toward multiple pet projects, including the construction of a new volleyball facility at Favre’s alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi. Investigators allege Davis worked with the retired NFL player to secure at least $5 million, which reportedly came from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a program “designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency.”

Favre’s lawyer Bud Holmes claimed his client “had no idea” the grant money had been pulled from a federal welfare program; however, newly surfaced text messages indicate that wasn’t the case. According to court documents, the idea to divert welfare money to the volleyball project was discussed in September 2017—the same year Favre’s daughter began playing on the school’s team.

The text exchange reportedly included Favre, Davis, and Nancy New, a nonprofit leader who procured the funds for the sports facility. 

“If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?” Favre allegedly texted New.

“No, we never have had that information publicized,” she responded. “I understand you being uneasy about that though.”

Shortly after, New informed Favre that the money had been secured.

“Wow, just got off the phone with [Mississippi Gov.] Phil Bryant!” she wrote. “He is on board with this, we will get this done!” 

A December 2017 text message appeared to show Favre celebrating the transaction.

“Nancy Santa came today and dropped some money off,” he wrote. “Thank you my goodness thank you. We need to set up the promo soon. Your way to kind [sic].”

Favre has not been charged in the welfare misspending case, but was sued by the state of Mississippi this year after he was accused of receiving $1.1 million for speeches he never gave.

John Davis pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, and one count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. He now faces up to 15 years in prison.

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