Brett Favre Repays $600,000 in Mississippi Welfare Fraud Case

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Brett Favre, the Hall of Fame quarterback who was raised in Mississippi, this week paid the state back $600,000 that he owed after he improperly received welfare money as part of an extensive fraud scheme, according to the state auditor’s office.

But Mr. Favre could still be sued if he does not pay the state the remaining $228,000 in interest that he owes, the auditor, Shad White, said.

Two weeks ago, Mr. White issued a demand to Mr. Favre for $828,000, saying it was the outstanding balance that he owed after he was improperly paid $1.1 million in welfare funds in December 2017 and June 2018. Mr. Favre received the money from the Mississippi Community Education Center, a nonprofit organization, in speaking fees for appearances that he never made, Mr. White said.

Mr. Favre had no knowledge that the money had been intended to benefit needy families, Mr. White said. Mr. Favre made a $500,000 payment to Mr. White’s office in May 2020 and agreed to pay the remaining $600,000 over the next few months, the auditor said.

But after Mr. Favre failed to pay remaining balance, Mr. White issued a demand this month that Mr. Favre pay the $600,000 he still owed as well as an additional $228,000 in interest in 30 days or, he said, Mr. Favre could be sued.

“This week Brett Favre repaid $600,000,” Mr. White said in a statement on Wednesday. “If Mr. Favre does not repay the full amount within 30 days of our demand, the attorney general will be responsible for enforcing the payment of the interest and has the option to file suit.”

A representative for Mr. Favre did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Wednesday night.

Mr. Favre, 52, grew up in Mississippi, played football at the University of Southern Mississippi, and spent 20 seasons in the National Football League, most of them with the Green Bay Packers, with whom he won Super Bowl XXXI in 1997.

He was among more than 10 people who were sent letters from Mr. White this month, demanding repayment of tens of millions of dollars connected to an extensive fraud scheme involving misspent welfare aid.

According to a scathing audit in May 2020, the state of Mississippi had allowed millions of dollars in anti-poverty funds to be used in ways that did little or nothing to help the poor, with two nonprofit groups instead using the money on lobbyists, football tickets, religious concerts and fitness programs for state lawmakers.

In a series of tweets last year, Mr. Favre wrote that he had appeared in ads for a resource center in Mississippi that had been a recipient of welfare grants. He said that he had never received any money for any obligations that he did not meet.

Mr. Favre also wrote that he had donated nearly $10 million through his charity to help underprivileged and underserved children in Mississippi and Wisconsin.

“I would certainly never do anything to take away from the children I have fought to help!” he wrote. “I love Mississippi and I would never knowingly do anything to take away from those that need it most.”

Mr. Favre was not the only prominent figure whom Mr. White had threatened to sue for outstanding debts connected to the welfare scheme.

Heart of David Ministry, a Christian ministry that is controlled by the former W.W.E. wrestler Ted DiBiase Sr., who is known as the Million Dollar Man, must repay $722,299, Mr. White said earlier this month.

One of Mr. DiBiase’s sons, Ted DiBiase Jr., who is also a former professional wrestler, must repay $3.9 million, Mr. White said. Another son, Brett DiBiase, who is also a former professional wrestler and was charged in connection with the fraud scheme last year, must pay $225,950, Mr. White said.

In December, Brett DiBiase pleaded guilty to making fraudulent statements, prosecutors said.

As part of a sentencing agreement, prosecutors said that they would recommend that Brett DiBiase receive a five-year suspended sentence if he cooperates in the prosecution of other defendants indicted in the welfare scheme and pays full restitution in the amount of $48,000.

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