Mississippi State Auditor solicits repayment of misspent welfare money

Mississippi State Auditor solicits repayment of misspent welfare money

DHS’s forensic audit, which was conducted by an independent, outside CPA firm from Maryland,

Mississippi’s state auditor requests the reimbursement of more than $77 million of misspent welfare  cash. The interest is to a few individuals who wasted Temporary Assistant for Needy Families (TANF) cash, according to a news release from Auditor Shad White. This includes previous Department of Human Services (DHS) Executive Director John Davis, alongside vendors who were paid those funds at this point neglected to do all the work required under their contracts, per the release.  “Two years ago my office audited DHS,” White said. “Following two years of work, we found tens of millions of dollars in misspending. Those findings have now been confirmed, this month, by an independent forensic audit commissioned by DHS. It’s time for the taxpayers to attempt to recover what we lost.”

“After our first DHS audit, I told the public we would have to consult with our federal partners at the Department of Health and Human Services before coming to final conclusions about who owed what money back,” said White. “Those partners were waiting for this forensic audit. Now that it’s complete, we are in a position to demand the illegally spent welfare funds be returned to the state.”

White’s office issued a demand to Davis for $96.313 million for his role authorizing over $77 million in illegal TANF spending.

The State Auditor said two nonprofits, the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC) and the Family Resource Center (FRC), either misspent or improperly dispersed portions of that $77 million. As a result, the board and leadership of MCEC were served with a demand for $68.159 million. FRC’s board and leadership were served with a demand for $15.549 million.

Auditors issued additional demands to vendors who received part of the $77 million in welfare spending but did not completely fulfill the terms of their contracts:

Austin Smith: $378,791
Brett Dibiase: $225,950
Favre Enterprises, along with Brett Favre and Robert Culumber: $828,000
Heart of David Ministries, controlled by Ted Dibiase, Sr.: $722,299
JTS Enterprises and Transformational Ventures, controlled by Brian Jeff Smith: $674,715
The Marcus Dupree Foundation, controlled by Marcus Dupree: $789,534
Nancy New: $2,589 (for payments received from FRC)
NCC Ventures, controlled by Nicholas Coughlin: $237,915
Ted Dibiase, Jr.: $3.903 million
Warren Washington Issaquena Sharkey Community Action Agency, along with agency leaders Jan Vaughn, Jannis Williams, Janice Jelks, and Delinda Robinson: $75,261
Zach New: $74,118 (for payments received from FRC)

White said former DHS Deputy Director Jacob Black was also served with a demand for $1,824 for unallowable first-class air travel.

If the demanded amounts are not repaid within 30 days, the Attorney General’s Office is responsible for enforcing the demands in court. White said these demands are civil in nature, not criminal. “I’m grateful that DHS’s Director Bob Anderson has worked with the Attorney General’s Office to hire an attorney to recover these funds. These demands serve as the next step in the recovery process. If there is more money that the Attorney General believes has been misspent than what we have identified in these demands, we stand ready to help them investigate if needed,” said White. “More demands are possible.”

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