Former wrestler tied to TANF scandal pleads guilty to conspiracy in federal court
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Another person has pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with the state’s largest welfare embezzlement scandal.
On Thursday, Dale “Brett” DiBiase pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States in U.S. District Court.
The plea comes more than two years after he pleaded guilty to two charges in Hinds County Circuit Court.
All three pleas are tied to DiBiase’s involvement in the largest public embezzlement scheme in the state’s history.
In addition to his sentence in state court, the former wrestler faces up to five years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
“I applaud our federal partners for continuing to pursue federal charges for each and every individual responsible for stealing from Mississippi’s most needy and vulnerable citizens,” said District Attorney Jody Owens. “As I have said before, this case is far from over and both the state of Mississippi and the U.S. government will continue to pursue all those involved in this fraud.”
DiBiase is one of several people tied to the fraud, which involved the embezzlement of millions of dollars in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding.
He was paid $48,000 through his business Restore2, LLC, using a series of fraudulent and false claims to receive payment. He also was accused of helping cover up these payments by falsifying documents, invoices, books, reports, and ledgers.
Investigators say former DHS workers created invoices to pay DiBiase for teaching classes about drug abuse, but he did not do that and instead was at a luxury rehab facility in California.
Others indicted and later convicted were former DHS Executive Director John Davis, Nancy New, Zach New, and Ann McGrew.
A previous version of this article, based on a Hinds County District Attorney press release, incorrectly stated Latimer Smith was convicted in a related case. Mr. Smith was not convicted of any criminal charge and entered a pretrial diversion program.
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