Former MDHS Director John Davis pleads guilty to defraud conspiracy

According to court documents from the United State Attorney’s Office Southern District of...
According to court documents from the United State Attorney’s Office Southern District of Mississippi, Davis, 54, of Jackson, and his co-conspirators falsely received and misused federal funds - including funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Emergency Food Assistance Program - for their personal use and benefit.(Mississippi Department of Human Services)
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 10:50 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WDAM) - Former Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director John Davis pleaded guilty in court Thursday morning to conspiring to defraud the State of Mississippi of millions of dollars in federal funds.

The United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of Mississippi announced Davis, 54, of Jackson, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and one count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. Hinds County District Attorney Jody E. Owens, II, also announced Davis pled guilty to five counts of conspiracy and 13 counts of fraud against the Government.

According to court documents from the United State Attorney’s Office Southern District of Mississippi, Davis, 54, of Jackson, and his co-conspirators falsely received and misused federal funds - including funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and the Emergency Food Assistance Program - for their personal use and benefit.

“While this case is far from over, John Davis’ guilty plea is a resounding victory for the State of Mississippi and its citizens,” said Owens.

Court documents state, at Davis’ direction, MDHS provided federal funds to two nonprofit organizations and then directed those organizations to fraudulently award contracts to various entities and people for social services that were never given.

Davis also caused the nonprofit organizations to distribute full, or almost-full, payments compatible with those sham contracts at or near the beginning of the contract periods, regardless of whether any work was done and knowing that no significant services would be provided.

“Today marks an important day for justice for Mississippians in the massive welfare scheme that my office uncovered more than two years ago,” said State Auditor Shad 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.”

Under the plea agreement, the State recommends that Davis be sentenced to 90 years with 32 years of that sentence to be served in prison, as well as be required to pay restitution in the amount of $220,897. He is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 2, 2023, according to USAO. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG) are investigating the case.

“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.

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