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Friday, July 12, 2024

Mississippi Supreme Court Denies Brett Favre’s Appeal

  • A three-judge panel declined Favre's appeal petition over lower court's ruling in welfare funds case.
  • Favre will remain a defendant in the lawsuit along with more than 40 others.
Brett Favre sues Shannon Sharpe, Pat McAfee, and Mississippi State Auditor Shad White .
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

CORRECTION: Ted M. DiBiase Jr. was indicted for his alleged role in the scheme. A previous version of this story misstated the status of the criminal proceedings against DiBiase.

Brett Favre remains a defendant in a massive lawsuit over millions of misspent welfare funds as a three-judge Mississippi Supreme Court panel denied his appeal petition. 

Favre filed the appeal in May after the judge in the civil case brought by the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) declined to dismiss the Hall of Fame quarterback as one of the more than 40 defendants. 

“After due consideration, the panel finds the petition for interlocutory appeal should be denied,” Mississippi Supreme Court Associate Justice James D. Maxwell II wrote in the one-page order filed on Wednesday.

The appeals petition honed in on two primary allegations in the case, which centered around Favre’s involvement in the disbursement of about $7 million of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds — federal money designed to support families in extreme need.

The funds allegedly were funneled to MDHS through a non-profit and to two projects Favre was involved in at the time. 

Favre allegedly lobbied for $5 million in funding to build a volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation, a project MDHS claims Favre offered to back himself in a 2017 handshake agreement. Favre is a Southern Miss alum, and his daughter played the sport at the school at the time. 

“The claim that Favre made any such oral ‘handshake’ agreement is negated by official contemporaneous records, and MDHS itself admits that a large portion of the transferred funds it seeks to recover from Favre was used for purposes other than the center,” his lawyers wrote in the appeals petition. “In any event, MDHS’s legal arguments are utterly meritless. “

In January 2019, Favre allegedly held a meeting at his house as part of a sales pitch for Prevacus, a pharmaceutical company where Favre was the largest single investor. Prevacus later allegedly received $1.7 million of TANF funds.

“MDHS does not allege that Favre had any authority to direct or approve the funds’ use or that he was aware that the Prevacus transaction involved TANF funds,” Favre’s lawyers wrote. 

The head of John Davis, the former director of MDHS, two non-profit leaders (Nancy New and her son, Zach New), have pleaded guilty to criminal charges over the scheme. Ted M. DiBiase Jr. was also indicted earlier this year. All four attended the 2019 meeting at Favre’s house. 

Favre and Prevacus founder Jake VanLandingham, who was also at the meeting, have not been charged. Favre has denied knowing that the money came from TANF funds. 

Favre paid back the $1.1 million in welfare funds for speaking engagements he did not perform.

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