Mississippi gave $2M in welfare money to WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase’s ministry

Mississippi gave $2M in welfare money to Ted DiBiase’s ministry

According to a new report by the Associated Press, the state of Mississippi gave more than $2.1 million in federal welfare money to a ministry run by WWE Hall of Famer Ted DiBiase’s Heart of David non-profit ministry organization.  

It is also being said that Ted DiBiase Sr.’s Heart of David Ministries had a contract with the Mississippi state Department of Human Services for a sub-grant of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families funds. 

According to tax exemption filings, Heart of David Ministries saw revenues double in the year Brett DiBiase was hired by the state. The nonprofit described its mission as “religious education and training” in those filings. It reported spending 2017 grant money received for “general church speaking engagements, religious conferences, school assemblies, and wrestling events.”

Mississippi state Personnel Board records show that Brett DiBiase was hired in February 2017 by the Department of Human Services at a $79,000 per year salary.

Then state Department of Human Services Director John Davis promoted Brett DiBiase on August 1 of 2017 to Deputy Director of Transformational Change, with his salary increasing to $95,000 per year.  However, Brett DiBiase was gone just after six weeks on the job, and indictments allege Davis and department employee Latimer Smith faked invoices to channel $48,000 so DiBiase could attend drug treatment in Malibu, California.

The department has also confirmed that the Mississippi Community Education Center paid Brett DiBiase’s brother, Ted DiBiase Jr., to provide training to human services employees. 

According to social media accounts, the training took place in late 2018 and early 2019. The leaders, at the time for the Mississippi Community and Education Center, Zach and Nancy New were charged with stealing more than $4 million in welfare funds that Davis directed to the nonprofit center, which was supposed to be used for assisting people with no immediate funds to find work, childcare and/or education.

It’s also not clear exactly how Heart of David spent all the money it received from May 2017 through earlier this budget year. The ministry pledged in one 2018 contract to “establish a network of partnerships, services and resources throughout Mississippi communities for faith-based and self activities.”

According to Federal guidelines, welfare money block grants are supposed to be used to further one of four specific purposes: encouraging healthy families, promoting job preparation and marriage, reducing out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and helping needy families.

In 2017, it is said that Heart of David Ministry government grants increased to $271,000 which is the same year Brett DiBiase was hired at the Department of Human Services. 

Ted DiBiase Sr. was paid $84,517 as president of the organization.

When the Heart of David Ministries had been given its first infusion of cash in 2017, filmmakers were finalizing the making of “The Price of Fame”, which is a documentary about Ted DiBiase Sr.’s struggles and religious awakening.

Department of Human Services spokesman Danny Blanton said the agency has not found that state funds were used for the movie.

The article from the Associated Press also indictes a woman who answered the door at the home of Ted DiBiase Sr. in Clinton, Mississippi called the Clarion Ledger’s (which is the newspaper that orginally published the story) past reporting “fictitious.” However, she declined to comment on the matter.  

In addition, The Associated Press indicates that attempts to reach directors and others connected to Heart of David Ministries were unsuccessful.

We previously reported that the former director of Mississippi’s welfare agency was arrested on charges in that he took part in the largest public embezzlement case in Mississippi history.

Brett DiBiase took part in a scheme to embezzle millions of dollars for personal use and to pay for him to go to a luxurious drug rehabilitation center.

Six people, including Brett DiBiase, all Mississippi residents, were arrested and charged.  

Mississippi State Auditors indicated that Brett DiBiase, 31, was paid with welfare funds for teaching classes on drug use. DiBiase never taught those classes because he was being treated for opioid addiction at the Rise in Malibu rehab center in California.