Brett Favre isn’t backing down against allegations that he defrauded millions of dollars from the state of Mississippi that was intended for welfare recipients. The Hall-of-Fame quarterback’s legal team has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit placed against him by the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS), claiming the accusations levied against him are without merit.
“It is apparent that MDHS has sued Favre, a Mississippi and national celebrity, in an effort to deflect responsibility for its own egregious wrongdoing,” the motion, which was filed on Monday (Nov. 28), reads. The civil suit, which names Favre and 37 other defendants, was filed on May 9 and charges that funds for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families were misappropriated after being divided among nonprofit organizations.
Favre’s alleged involvement in the massive $77 million welfare fraud scam was uncovered earlier this year, with the Super Bowl champion accused of knowingly committing illegal acts in tandem with state officials. Thus far, six people have been arrested in connection to the fraud, five of whom have entered guilty pleas in the state of Mississippi. Favre, who has maintained his innocence, has not been criminally charged, despite alleged texts between himself and John Davis, director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
“[MDHS]’s lawsuit is nothing more than a baseless attempt to blame Brett Favre for its own failure to oversee the welfare funds placed in its trust,” Favre’s lawyer, Eric Herschmann, wrote in a statement to ESPN. “Mr. Favre never had any control over how Mississippi spent its welfare funds. He never made any misrepresentations to anyone.”
MDHS has voiced its desire to pursue justice in the court of law rather than the press, a sentiment the state department shared in their own statement to the outlet. “At this point, MDHS doesn’t want to try this case in the media, and we believe that merits of the case will stand on their own. We will leave that to a court to decide.”
According to a report published by Mississippi Today, the 53-year-old requested assistance from Davis and another state official in helping clear a debt he and his wife had accrued. Prevacus, a pharmaceutical company associated with Favre, allegedly received $2.5 million in stolen funds in exchange as part of an offer to give Gov. Phil Bryant shares in Prevacus. The former Green Bay Packer is also reported to have collected over $1 million from TANF funds for speeches he never delivered. While Favre has paid back $600,000 of that sum to the state, records show he still owes $228,000 in interest.
Favre, who is accused of using $5 million in state funds to build a volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi, which his daughter attends, was also implicated in a prior scheme to profit $20 million from a $515 million health insurance fraud scheme. An investigation into the scam ultimately led to 20 convictions in Mississippi. However, the NFL legend was not charged in that scandal and has yet to be formally arrested or charged with any crime in connection to fraud against the state of Mississippi.