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WWE scion of ‘Million Dollar Man’ stole millions from federal welfare and food relief programs: Feds

DiBiase family

WWE Superstar Ted DiBiase Jr., left, with brother Brett DiBiase, right, induct their father “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase into the 2010 WWE Hall of Fame at the Ceremony in Phoenix, Ariz. The embedded photo is a screenshot of son Ted Jr. (Rick Scuteri/AP Images for WWE, File)

Professional wrestler Ted DiBiase Jr., whose “Million Dollar Man” father shares his name, stole millions from federal welfare and food relief programs, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Scandal has long trailed the children of Ted DiBiase Sr., whose two sons followed in his footsteps into the WWE. Now, Ted DiBiase Jr. and Brett DiBiase both find themselves in legal hot water. Brett DiBiase first pleaded guilty to state charges in late 2020, for what was then described as the largest public embezzlement case in Mississippi state history.

On Thursday, federal prosecutors went after Ted DiBiase Jr., for allegedly swiping millions from federal funds such as the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The younger DiBiase allegedly conspired with ex-Mississippi Department of Human Services executive director John Davis, as well as Christi Webb and Nancy New, the heads of two nonprofits said to be tied to the scheme.

Those organizations were the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi Inc. (FRC) and the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC).

Davis, Webb and New have since pleaded guilty to related criminal charges. Two of them, Davis and Webb, agreed to cooperate with the government.

Prosecutors say that Davis directed Webb and New to award at least five sham contracts to DiBiase’s companies, Priceless Ventures LLC and Familiae Orientem LLC, for services that the LLCs “did not provide and did not intend to provide.”

“DiBiase appropriated and misused the federal funds for his own personal benefit, including, among other expenditures, the purchase of a vehicle, the purchase of a boat, and the down payment for the purchase of a house,” according to the indictment.

Prosecutors claim that the scheme lasted between 2016 and 2019.

“As a result of the actions of DiBiase, Davis, Webb, New, and others known and unknown to the grand jury, millions of dollars in federal safety-net funds were diverted from needy families and low-income individuals in Mississippi,” the indictment continues.

DiBiase’s attorney Scott Gilbert asserted that filing of the indictment made it a “good day” for his client.

“After being forced to sit quietly for nearly three years while opportunists took unabated swings at Teddy and his family, Teddy now has the opportunity to fight back publicly,” Gilbert wrote. “As much as every one of us have the right to decide for ourselves whether our government is effective or prudent in the way it carries out its functions, criminalizing what, in hindsight, may be fairly characterized as poor fiscal management by the executive branch of state government is a dangerous and worrisome precedent. We are confident that when this process is finished, it will be clear that the government’s theory is misguided and that their allegations cannot be substantiated, as they pertain to Teddy DiBiase.”

In 2022, Mississippi’s Department of Human Services sued 38 people or companies for misusing welfare money meant to address poverty in the nation’s poorest state. That lawsuit named “Million Dollar Man” Ted Biase Sr., his two sons, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre and others as defendants, generating national headlines. The agency claimed that at least $77 million in TANF funds got steered away from poor and needy families toward others who didn’t need the assistance, including the wealthy and famous.

In the burgeoning criminal fallout, several have been charged and pleaded guilty. Favre has not been charged with a crime, but he has dealt with civil litigation and embarrassing national headlines. Favre was linked to the scandal through a plan to secure millions in funding for a volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter played volleyball from 2017 to 2022.

Mississippi State Auditor Shad White alleged that Favre received $1.1 million from the TANF program — $500,000 in December 2017 and $600,000 in June 2018 — for speeches that he never gave at events he never attended.

Represented by former President Trump’s one-time attorney Eric Herschmann, Favre has since tried to spike that lawsuit, claiming it “outrageously instigated” negative publicity against him. He denies all of the allegations.

Read Ted DiBiase Jr.’s indictment here.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."