Mississippi Official Reportedly Stole Money From Poor People to Send a Professional Wrestler to Rehab

Illustration for article titled Mississippi Official Reportedly Stole Money From Poor People to Send a Professional Wrestler to Rehab
Image: AP
Big Time Small-Time DicksWelcome to Big Time Small-Time Dicks, a regular column on The Slot that explores local politicians, small-town scandals, and everything else making life miserable on a local level.

I will admit there was some grousing when I drew the short straw for this blog, as I am from Louisiana with a large number of relatives from Yazoo City, Mississippi. If that heritage has taught me anything it’s that you can’t eat fried catfish without pickled green tomatoes. But if it’s taught me a second thing, it’s that all politicians steal.

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Edwin Edwards, Huey Long, etc. The storied history of embezzling as a form of employment goes on and on in the Gulf states. However, the stolen money generally goes towards debauchery, not recovery, so this news item in which the former head of Mississippi Departement of Human Services allegedly spent stolen money to send a former professional wrestler to rehab was a new one for me, a person who thought I’d seen it all.

John Davis, who worked for the Mississippi DHS for almost thirty years, is accused of manufacturing fake invoices using money earmarked for poor families in order pay a former professional wrestler named Brett DiBiase to teach classes about drug abuse. In actuality, DiBiase reportedly used the money to go to a very expensive drug rehabilitation center in Malibu, California. According to authorities, the classes never happened.

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Auditor Shad White says that the scheme encompassed much more than just the rehab payments and also involves millions of dollars siphoned from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families fund through the DHS and into the Mississippi Community Education Center, run by Nancy New and her son Zach New. The News allegedly used money from the non-profit for their private businesses and personal expenses. Ah yes, rich families seeing themselves as both needier and more deserving than poor families. That sounds more like home.

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DISCUSSION

This is why block granting federal aid programs is such a terrible idea in practice. You get this kind of shit, with money meant for poor families diverted to other purposes.