Mississippi native NFL Hall of Fame star Brett Favre has repaid $600,000 in state welfare funds that should have gone to needy families, Mississippi State Auditor Shad White says. Favre still owes $228,000 in interest payments, however. Mississippi Today’s Anna Wolfe first reported the payment yesterday.
White’s office confirmed the details to the Mississippi Free Press this morning, saying that Favre Enterprises had delivered a $600,000 check to the state on the celebrity athlete’s behalf. Favre is not accused of any criminal wrongdoing, but could face a civil lawsuit if he does not return the remaining funds within 30 days of receiving a payment demand from White’s office. It would be up to Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch to decide whether or not to pursue the funds in court.
The famed quarterback and Mississippi native previously received $1.1 million in funds from two non-profits whose founder has since been indicted on state and federal charges for her alleged role in the largest embezzlement scheme in state history. Months after news of the scandal first broke, the auditor announced in May 2020 that Favre had returned $500,000.
“I was unaware that the money being dispersed was paid for out of funds not intended for that purpose, and because of that, I am refunding the full amount back to Mississippi,” Favre tweeted at the time. But he did not make any additional payments until this month after the auditor issued a demand.
“Two nonprofits, the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC) and the Family Resource Center (FRC), either misspent or improperly dispersed portions of that $77 million, meaning the money was ultimately misspent by a vendor to the nonprofit,” White said in an Oct. 12 statement announcing demand letters to Favre and others who had received the funds.
White also issued a demand letter to former Mississippi Department of Human Services Director John Davis for $96.3 million, including interest, “for his role authorizing over $77 million in illegal TANF spending.”
Davis and Nancy New, the founder of the non-profits involved in the case, pleaded not guilty last year to state charges stemming from the DHS scandal. In March, federal prosecutors indicted New and her son Zachary New on additional charges, alleging that they had “conspired” to “fraudulently” obtain more than $2 million in public education funds and used it to pay for teachers’ salaries at a private school Nancy New owned and operated in Jackson. The News have denied the allegations.