Mississippi revises demands on Favre in welfare lawsuit

Dec 4, 2022, 8:31 PM | Updated: Dec 5, 2022, 12:41 pm
This Sept. 16, 2022 photo shows the volleyball courts in the Wellness Center at the University of S...

This Sept. 16, 2022 photo shows the volleyball courts in the Wellness Center at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss. In a court filing on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022, the Mississippi Department of Human Services demanded that retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre and the University of Southern Mississippi repay millions of dollars of welfare money that went toward building the volleyball facility. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Department of Human Services on Monday changed its demands against retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre in a lawsuit that seeks repayment of misspent welfare money that was intended to help some of the poorest people in the U.S.

The department dropped its demand of $1.1 million against Favre, acknowledging he has already repaid that money for an unfulfilled pledge of public speeches. But it made a new demand of up to $5 million against Favre and a university sports foundation, saying money from an anti-poverty program was improperly used to pay for a volleyball arena at the University of Southern Mississippi.

The volleyball facility was a pet project of Favre, and he pledged to lead fundraising efforts for it. Previous filings in the civil lawsuit show text message exchanges between Favre and others about directing money to the volleyball facility from a nonprofit organization that had Human Services contracts. But until Monday, the Human Services lawsuit had not sought to recoup money for the facility.

Favre is a University of Southern Mississippi alumnus, and his daughter started playing volleyball at the Hattiesburg school in 2017. The volleyball facility, also called a wellness center, was completed in late 2019.

In a court filing Monday, the Department of Human Services acknowledged Favre has already repaid $1.1 million he received from the Mississippi Community Education Center. The nonprofit organization had contracts with the department to spend money through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families anti-poverty program.

The organization paid Favre for public speaking to help raise money for the volleyball facility, but the state auditor said Favre failed to make the speeches. The Department of Human Services court filing Monday said Favre “possibly recorded a single twenty-second radio advertisement” for that $1.1 million.

“In 2020, Favre received a demand from the Office of State Auditor requiring the $1.1 million be repaid with interest,” the new Human Services court filing said. “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.”

Auditor Shad White said last week that Favre still owed more than $200,000 in interest on the $1.1 million.

The Human Services court filing Monday said Favre has not repaid $5 million in TANF money “that he orchestrated” for the Mississippi Community Education Center to pay to the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation to satisfy his guarantee to fund construction of a university volleyball facility.

The leaders of the Mississippi Community Education Center are Nancy New and her son Zachary New. They have both been on the board of directors for the University of Southern Mississippi Athletic Foundation, as has Favre.

John Davis, who was Department of Human Services director from 2016 to 2019, agreed to enter into a sham lease with Nancy New and Zachary New to use welfare money to pay for construction of the volleyball facility, the new court filing says.

Favre’s attorney Eric Herschmann said in a statement Monday that the department’s new $5 million demand against Favre is groundless. Herschmann said the department left out key facts, including that the Mississippi attorney general’s office signed off on the transfer of money from the Department of Human Services to the University of Southern Mississippi “all with the full knowledge and consent” of then-Gov. Phil Bryant and other state officials.

“That a private citizen, like non-lawyer Brett Favre, could have any liability under these circumstances is baseless,” Herschmann said.

Davis pleaded guilty in September to federal and state charges tied to the welfare misspending in what the state auditor has called Mississippi’s largest public corruption case in decades. Nancy New and Zachary New pleaded guilty in April to state charges of misspending welfare money. All three await sentencing and have agreed to testify against others.

In a Nov. 28 court filing, Favre’s attorney asked a judge to dismiss Favre from the Human Services lawsuit that seeks to recover millions of dollars in misspent welfare money. The judge has not acted on that request.

Favre grew up in Mississippi and played football at the University of Southern Mississippi before a long career with the Green Bay Packers that included a win in Super Bowl XXXI. He was traded to the New York Jets in 2008 and played there one year before playing his final two seasons for the Minnesota Vikings.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka, right, makes a save on a shot by St. Louis Blues center ...
Associated Press

Schmaltz has hat trick to back Vejmelka in Coyotes’ 5-0 win

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Nick Schmaltz had his first NHL hat trick, Karel Vejmelka made 33 saves for his third shutout of the season and the Arizona Coyotes beat the St. Louis Blues 5-0 on Thursday night. Schmaltz scored twice in a three-minute span midway through the second period, and scored again 13 seconds into […]
21 hours ago
FILE - CBS announcers Billy Packer, left, and Jim Nantz laugh during a break in the championship ga...
Associated Press

College basketball broadcaster Billy Packer dies at 82

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82. Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to […]
21 hours ago
Minnesota Wild left wing Matt Boldy, left, celebrates with left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) after sco...
Associated Press

Boldy, Zuccarello lead Wild past Flyers 3-2 in OT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Mats Zuccarello scored in overtime, Matt Boldy had two goals in regulation and the Minnesota Wild returned home with a 3-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night. Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves for Minnesota, which had lost three in a row and was 1-3 on a four-game road […]
21 hours ago
Nashville Predators center Cody Glass (8) is congratulated after his goal against the New Jersey De...
Associated Press

Duchene’s goal, assist lead Predators to 6-4 win over Devils

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Matt Duchene scored a third-period goal and assisted on another to lead the Nashville Predators to a 6-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. Cody Glass, Cole Smith, Mikael Granlund, Filip Forsberg and Tanner Jeannot also scored for Nashville, which has won three straight and five of six […]
21 hours ago
Buffalo Sabres' Jeff Skinner (53), Tage Thompson (72), Owen Power (25), Jack Quinn (22) and Rasmus ...
Associated Press

Sabres hold off Jets 3-2 for 5th straight victory

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Tage Thompson had a goal and an assist and the Buffalo Sabres beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory. Thompson scored his 34th goal of the season and stretched his points streak to six games. He has three goals and seven assists during the streak. […]
21 hours ago
New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) drives to the basket to score as Boston Celtics center A...
Associated Press

Randle scores 37, Knicks rally to beat Celtics 120-117 in OT

BOSTON (AP) — The Knicks are a young team that’s still learning how to string together victories. They’re hoping to bottle several lessons from their latest outing. Julius Randle had 37 points and nine rebounds, and hit the free throws that gave New York the lead for good in a 120-117 overtime win over the […]
21 hours ago
Mississippi revises demands on Favre in welfare lawsuit