A former Mississippi human services official has pleaded guilty to state and federal charges in a massive welfare fraud scheme, prosecutors said.

The US Department of Justice said Thursday that Davis and “his co-conspirators” used federal funds “for his personal use and benefit.”

“At Davis’ direction, MDHS awarded federal funds to two nonprofits and then directed the two nonprofits to fraudulently award contracts to various entities and individuals for social services that were never awarded,” the DOJ said. in a news release.

On Thursday, the former state official pleaded guilty to two federal charges: one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of theft involving programs that receive federal funds, the DOJ announced. He faces up to five years in prison for the conspiracy charge and 10 years for the robbery charge.

Davis also pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy and 13 counts of wire fraud in Hinds County, County Attorney Jody E. Owens said. a tweet Thursday.

“Davis was one of six defendants arrested in 2020 and later charged in one of the largest diversion schemes in Mississippi history,” Owens said.

The extensive fraud scheme was discovered in 2020 by a state audit of federal funds allocated to state agencies. When state auditor Shad White announced the findings, he called the scheme “the most serious misspending my staff has seen in their careers.”
The state auditor has said that about $77 million of money intended for a state welfare program, temporary assistance for the needy, was misused.

According to investigators, more than $4 million was used to build a Brett Favre-backed volleyball center at the University of Southern Mississippi, Favre’s alma mater and where his daughter played the sport at the time.

The state of Mississippi filed a civil lawsuit against more than 35 individuals and entities against the former NFL quarterback earlier this year.

The text messages were released last week as part of the civil suit by lawyers for the nonprofit founded by Nancy New, who has already pleaded guilty to charges related to the welfare fund scheme. Favre was shown discussing getting New’s nonprofit money and expressing his love for Davis after talks about the funding, as well as meetings with Davis and former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant about the funding.

Bryant and Favre have not been charged with a crime at this time and Bryant has not been named as a defendant in the civil suit.

The former quarterback’s attorney told CNN that Favre did not know welfare funds were being used for the volleyball center.

CNN’s Eric Levenson and Devon Sayers contributed to this report.