The Mississippi Department of Human Services changed its demands against Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre in relation to a lawsuit over welfare money he received that was intended to help welfare families.
The department is now demanding up to $5 million against Favre and a University of Southern Mississippi sports foundation in relation to accusations that money from an anti-poverty program was instead used to fund a volleyball facility at the school, which is Favre’s alma mater and where his daughter played the sport, according to a court filing on Monday (December 5) via WISN.
Monday’s court filing marked the first time the Human Services lawsuit sought to recoup the money used to fund the University of Southern Mississippi volleyball facility.
The state also dropped its previous demand for Favre to pay $1.1 million, acknowledging that the former quarterback had already repaid that total in relation to unfulfilled pledges of public speeches.
“In 2020, Favre received a demand from the Office of State Auditor requiring the $1.1 million be repaid with interest,” the Human Services court filing stated via WISN. “Recognizing that he had no right to payment for services never performed with funds designed for needy families, Favre repaid the $1.1 million to the state.”
Favre was reported to have still owed more than $200,000 in interest on the $1.1 million, Mississippi Auditor Shad White announced last week via WISN.
Last month, interviews and documents obtained by ESPN revealed that two concussion drug companies backed by Favre that were entangled in the welfare fund scandal were accused of overstating their connections and exaggerating the effectiveness of their drugs while attempting to raise money.
Court filings revealed that the companies, Prevacus and PresolMD, and their founder, Jake VanLandingham, were actually facing substantial debts during the past few years, while VanLandingham attempted to get more money from investors in order to get his product to the market.
The two companies were alleged to have received more than $2.1 million in funds intended for Mississippi welfare families, a civil lawsuit filed by the state and obtained by ESPN confirmed.
“I had no idea this was welfare money, and I’ve always been an upstanding person when it comes to research,” VanLandingham told ESPN while addressing the allegations.
The former quarterback is the top outside investor in Prevacus, having stated that he invested $1 million into the two companies, which are developing a nasal spray intended to treat and a cream to prevent or limit concussions, which Favre has publicly acknowledged battling throughout his NFL career.
Six people have been arrested and charged in relation to the Mississippi welfare fund scandal, neither of which are Favre nor VanLandingham, however, both are among 38 people named in the civil lawsuit filed earlier this year seeking more than $20 million to the families affected by the scam, ESPN reports.
In October, Favre publicly addressed accusations of his role in a Mississippi welfare funds scandal for the first time.
“I have been unjustly smeared in the media,” Favre said in a statement provided exclusively to FOX News on October 11. “I have done nothing wrong, and it is past time to set the record straight.
“No one ever told me, and I did not know, that funds designated for welfare recipients were going to the University or me. I tried to help my alma mater USM, a public Mississippi state university, raise funds for a wellness center. My goal was and always will be to improve the athletic facilities at my university.
In September, newly released text messages sent by Favre showed that the quarterback was more involved in pushing for millions of federal welfare funds to be diverted in his home state of Mississippi than previously known, Mississippi Today‘s Anna Wolfe, who initially reported that Favre had received the federal grant funds, reported.
The messages, which were released in a court filing, showed that Favre pushed for at least $5 million in funds initially intended to help poor families instead be paid toward a new volleyball facility at his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter played the sport.
Additionally, messages showed that the former quarterback sought reassurance from nonprofit founder Nancy New — 13 felony counts of bribery, fraud and racketeering in relation to the incident — that the public would never become aware that he was attempting to receive millions in grants that were coming from the Mississippi welfare agency, NBC News reports.
“State agencies provided the funds to Nancy New’s charity, the Mississippi Community Education Center, which then gave the funds to the University, all with the full knowledge and approval of other State agencies, including the State-wide Institute for Higher Learning, the Governor’s office and the Attorney General’s office,” Favre said in the statement to FOX News.
“I was told that the legal work to ensure that these funds could be accepted by the university was done by State attorneys and State employees.”
The text messages released last month included Favre asking New in August 2017, “If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?” Favre asked New in August 2017.
New told Favre, “we never have that information publicized,” before notifying him that then-Governor Phil Bryant was “on board with us” and “we will get this done” the following day.
Farve later sent a text to New in December 2017 confirming he’d received the payment.
“Nancy Santa came today and dropped some money off,” Favre wrote with two smiley faces. “Thank you my goodness thank you. We need to set up the promo soon. Your way to kind.”
Favre had publicly claimed that he didn’t know the funds were welfare dollars and the messages don’t prove otherwise.
Additionally, tax records obtained by the Athletic showed that Favre’s charitable foundation funneled more than $130,000 intended for disadvantaged children and cancer patients.
The records state that the non-profit Favre 4 Hope “significantly increased its contributions” while the former quarterback was funding the Southern Mississippi volleyball facility.
Favre 4 Hope donated $60,000 to the USM Athletic Foundation in 2018, $46,817 in 2019 and $26,175 in 2020, according to the tax records.
The charity had also previously donated $60,000 to Oak Grove High in Hattiesburg, where his daughter had played volleyball at the time, in 2015.
Favre 4 Hope was launched in 1995 “to provide financial assistance” for “underserved and disabled children in Mississippi and Wisconsin” and extended its “mission statement to include organizations providing financial aid for breast cancer patients” after Favre’s wife, Deanna, completed her treatment for breast cancer in 2005, according to the organization’s website.
NBC News initially reported that Favre was questioned by the FBI in relation to the situation, however, there is no indication that the Hall of Famer is the target of the FBI’s criminal investigation.
Mississippi is the poorest state in the U.S., with an estimated 200,000 children living below the poverty line, according to U.S. Census data via NBC News.
In August, Governor Tate Reeves announced Jackson, the state’s largest and capital city, was without a reliable water supply after its main water treatment facility failed.