State Auditor Shad White and Hinds County District Attorney Jody Owens announced Thursday that former Director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services John Davis has pleaded guilty to his role in Mississippi’s largest public fraud scheme. Davis has also agreed to fully cooperate with and assist law enforcement authorities in the prosecution of any and all other criminal defendants.
“Today marks an important day for justice for Mississippians in the massive welfare scheme that my office uncovered more than two years ago,” said White. “District Attorney Jody Owens and his team did an incredible job putting a stop to the flow of money to the fraudsters who took from the poorest in the state. We would not be here if they had not shown courage and the willingness to charge these individuals with crimes. My team has given every piece of evidence we have to federal investigators and will continue to work jointly with them to see this matter to its conclusion.”
According to documents filed in Judge Adrienne Wooten’s courtroom, John Davis pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy and 13 counts of fraud against the government. Judge Wooten sentenced Davis to spend 32 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. She also ordered him to pay restitution.
Davis also pleaded guilty to one federal charge of conspiracy and one federal charge of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds Thursday morning in the courtroom of Judge Carlton Reeves. For these crimes, Davis faces up to 15 years in federal prison and $500,000 in fines. He also agreed to forfeit assets he gained as a result of these crimes. He is scheduled to be sentenced for his crimes by Judge Reeves in February 2023.
White announced the arrest of John Davis and five other individuals as part of what is now Mississippi’s largest public fraud scheme in February 2020. Since then, multiple people have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in state court.
- In December 2020, Brett DiBiase pleaded guilty to making fraudulent statements in Judge Tomie Green’s courtroom and paid $5,000 in restitution at that time. DiBiase has not yet been sentenced for his crime.
- Anne McGrew is guilty of conspiracy. She entered a guilty plea in Judge Adrienne Wooten’s courtroom in October 2021. McGrew will be sentenced for her crime at a later date.
- In April 2022, Nancy New pleaded guilty to multiple charges of bribery of a public official, fraud against the government, mail fraud, and racketeering in Judge Faye Peterson’s courtroom. New is awaiting sentencing for her crimes.
- Zach New also pleaded guilty to multiple charges of bribery of a public official, fraud against the government, and mail fraud in Judge Faye Peterson’s courtroom in April 2022. Zach New has not yet been sentenced for his crimes.
“In the face of jurisdictional disputes and criticism for doing too much or too little, this office stayed focused on what is most important, justice for a crime that involved abuse of power and the misappropriation and unlawful diversion of millions of dollars intended to help our State’s most vulnerable citizens.” Owens said. “My office will always stand against public corruption in all its forms, regardless of the scale or the individuals involved.”
After the sentencing, Gov. Tate Reeves posted the following statement on his Twitter account: