The Mississippi Department of Human Services has filed notice of its intent to depose former NFL quarterback Brett Favre as part of its lawsuit seeking to recover millions of dollars in misspent welfare funds.
In a court filing Monday, the agency said its lawyers were scheduled to take Favre's sworn testimony beginning Oct. 26 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. According to Front Office Sports, this would be the first Favre deposition, but those involved in the case aren't commenting because of a judge's gag order.
A lawyer for Favre declined to comment and an MDHS spokesman also declined to answer questions. In a July court filing, a lawyer for Favre said his client "does not intend to invoke the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination" in connection with the case.
Favre, 53, has denied wrongdoing and has not been criminally charged in the case. His alleged involvement became known in May 2022, when he was named as one of 38 original defendants. MDHS's lawsuit seeks to recoup at least $77 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds, which a state audit said was diverted from needy families to rich and powerful people in the state. As of May 2023, there were 47 defendants in the case.
At the heart of the dispute between MDHS and Favre is a volleyball facility built in 2019 at Favre's alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi. Favre donated his own money and helped raise funds for the facility. Text messages, which have become public in legal filings as part of the lawsuit, show he pushed state officials for money during the time his daughter was on the team.
The university's athletic foundation received $5 million in TANF funds. According to a state audit and the lawsuit, Favre was paid $1.1 million from TANF funds for speeches the auditor says Favre never made. He eventually paid the money back, but the auditor has demanded he also pay $228,000 in interest. Prevacus, a company developing a concussion drug in which Favre was the top outside investor and stockholder, also received TANF funds.
Eight people have been indicted in connection with the case, six of whom have pleaded guilty for their involvement. A Hinds County judge has filed a suppression order limiting pretrial publicity until the case goes to trial or is resolved.
MDHS also has sought a deposition from former Southern Miss president Rodney Bennett, who recently was named chancellor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. That deposition is scheduled for Oct. 31 in Lincoln, Nebraska. MDHS has also subpoenaed Bennett for communications with Favre and numerous other people involved in the case. A Nebraska spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment.