A federal indictment has been unsealed charging former professional wrestler Ted DiBiase, Jr. with misappropriating millions of dollars in safety-net funds intended for needy families and low-income individuals in Mississippi.
According to court documents, DiBiase, 40, of Madison, along with co-conspirators John Davis, Christi Webb, Nancy New, and others, are alleged to have fraudulently obtained federal funds – including from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program – that they misappropriated for their own personal use and benefit.
As part of the alleged scheme, after federal funds were issued to MDHS, Davis directed the agency to sub-grant the funds to two nonprofit organizations, Family Resource Center of North Mississippi Inc.(FRC) and Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC), which were operated by Webb and New, respectively.
Davis then allegedly directed Webb and New to award sham contracts to various individuals and entities purportedly for the delivery of social services, including at least five sham contracts that were awarded to DiBiase’s companies, Priceless Ventures LLC and Familiae Orientem LLC.
FRC and MCEC provided millions of dollars in federal funds from MDHS to DiBiase and his companies for social services that DiBiase neither provided nor intended to provide. Instead, DiBiase allegedly used these federal funds to buy a vehicle and a boat, and for the down payment on the purchase of a house in Madison’s Reunion neighborhood, among other expenditures.
The former professional wrestler is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, six counts of wire fraud, two counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, and four counts of money laundering.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the conspiracy count, a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count, and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for each count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and for each count of money laundering.
“Prosecutors decide whom to charge with a crime, and we’re grateful to see them continuing to advance this case. We will continue to support their efforts with the evidence that our investigators and federal investigators have uncovered,” State Auditor Shad White said.