DHS director charged in multi-million dollar embezzlement and fraud scheme


The office of State Auditor Shad White arrested the former Mississippi Department of Human Services Director John Davis Wednesday and charged him and alleged fellow conspirators with fraud and embezzlement.

In what White’s office calls the “largest embezzlement case in state history,” investigators claim that John Davis and others diverted public Temporary Assistance for Needy Families money for personal use.

This federal money is intended to help states provides childcare assistance, job preparation assistance and other services.

In addition to Davis, the auditor has charged Latimer Smith, a former DHS employee; Nancy New, Zach New, and Anne McGrew, all of the Mississippi Community Education Center, and professional wrestler Brett DiBiase.

The auditor alleges that Davis and Smith paid DiBiase for teaching drug abuse classes that he never actually taught.

“DiBiase was in a luxury rehabilitation facility for his own drug use in California at the time and did not perform the services,” the auditor’s office claims. “Davis and Smith created documents and arranged payment knowing DiBiase was not performing the work he was hired to perform.”

Similarly, the auditor alleges that the Mississippi Community Education Center wrongfully paid DiBiase for work he never performed and transferred public money to private businesses.

Among other improper uses of federal money, the auditor alleges MCEC helped pay for DiBiase to receive to receive treatment as a Malibu facility and for investments in medical device companies.

The defendants were indicted by a grand jury in Hinds County.

“The funds that were illegally obtained in this case were intended to help the poorest among us,” White said in a written statement. “The funds were instead taken by a group of influential people for their own benefit, and the scheme is massive. It ends today.”

The investigation remains ongoing and the auditor said a full accounting of the allegedly embezzled money is not yet available.

All charges will be prosecuted by Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens.

After the charges were announced Wednesday, the Mississippi Department of Human Services released a statement applauding the auditor.

“MDHS self-reported the information that initiated this investigation to former Governor Phil Bryant’s office in June 2019,” said the statement. “That report ultimately led to today’s arrests. MDHS would like to thank the Office of the State Auditor investigators for their diligent work in seeing this investigation through. We look forward to this moving through the justice system to a final disposition”

caleb.bedillion@journalinc.com
Twitter: @CalebBedillion


(c)2020 the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.)
Visit the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.) at www.djournal.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.