JACKSON, Miss. — Retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre is asking the Mississippi Supreme Court to remove him as a defendant in a civil lawsuit that seeks to recover millions of dollars of misspent welfare money meant to help some of the neediest people in the United States.
In papers filed late Monday, Favre’s attorneys argue the Mississippi Department of Human Services is making “utterly meritless” legal arguments in suing Favre.
On April 24, Hinds County Circuit Judge Faye Peterson denied Favre’s request to be removed from the lawsuit, which has more than three dozen people or businesses as defendants. Favre is asking the Supreme Court to overturn Peterson’s decision.
Millions of federal welfare dollars for low-income Mississippi residents were squandered on projects supported by wealthy or well-connected people from 2016 to 2019, prosecutors say.
The department’s lawsuit says money from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program was improperly spent, including on projects Favre supported: $5 million for a volleyball arena at the university he attended and where Favre’s daughter played the sport, and $1.7 million toward development of a concussion treatment drug.
No criminal charges have been brought against Favre, although other people have pleaded guilty to their part in the misspending.
In their filing to the state Supreme Court, Favre’s attorneys argue that Department of Human Services officials and Nancy New, who directed a nonprofit organization with Human Services contracts, “concocted and carried out the scheme” to direct welfare money toward a volleyball center, and that Favre was not part of the effort.
Favre’s attorneys had argued the Department of Human Services is suing the NFL Hall of Famer to deflect from the department’s own role in allowing fraud, and they filed multiple sets of papers seeking to have him dismissed from the suit. State attorneys wrote in March that Favre’s attorneys had given the court “a long press release” rather than legal arguments in trying to get him out of the lawsuit.