A recent audit reveals that a charity operated by WWE Hall of Famer Ted “Million Dollar Man” DiBiase has had its spending called into question. According to the website Y’all Politics:
Millions of dollars of grants from the Mississippi Department of Human Services (DHS) were misspent, converted to personal use, spent on family members and friends of staffers and grantees, or wasted according to an audit released today by State Auditor Shad White.
“This completed audit of DHS for the previous year shows the most egregious misspending my staff have seen in their careers at the Office of the State Auditor,” said White. “When you read this one-hundred-plus page audit, you will see that, if there was a way to misspend money, it seems DHS leadership or their grantees thought of it and tried it.”
As a former attorney (currently on hiatus due to my bank robbery spree- see my memoir Laughing All the Way to the Bank (Robbery): How an Attorney Survived Prison for more details), I can tell you that rare is the statement from a prosecutor or government official such as an auditor that isn’t full of hyperbole. Their job is to make the public feel that tax dollars aren’t being wasted. Still, the auditor’s comments on some funding agencies shouldn’t be taken lightly:
The audit of DHS showed massive sums were funneled to grantees like the Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC) and the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi (FRC), two non-profits. Those grantees were given over $98 million in DHS grants over the last three years, mostly from the program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
A number of questionable financial activities were brought up in the audit, including payments to Ted DiBiase and DiBiase’s son
MCEC and FRC paid large sums to wrestlers Ted Dibiase, Ted Dibiase, Jr., and Brett Dibiase for work that was not performed, for unreasonable travel costs, or with little proof the programs helped the needy.
You may recall that Ted DiBiase’s charity Heart of David Ministries was scrutinized last February when DiBiase’s son Brett was indicted for embezzling funds. According to a report at The New York Post:
A nonprofit religious organization founded by former wrestler Ted DiBiase — whose son, Brett, was indicted last week for allegedly embezzling charity funds — reportedly received more than $2.1 million in welfare from the state of Mississippi, according to the Clarion-Ledger.
DiBiase became a preacher after retiring from the ring and formed the Heart of David Ministries, which received just $5,000 in grants in 2013, but pulled in $271,000 in welfare money in 2017, when Brett was hired as a senior official at the Mississippi Department of Human Services by former director John Davis, among the six people indicted in an alleged scheme that stole more than $4.15 million in welfare funds. DiBiase’s group received as much as $900,000 one year.
According to the audit, there were intentional efforts made to hide the barred spending. According to NewsCenter 11:
The unallowable spending was achieved through a variety improper activities, like: DHS Director Davis limiting monitoring of subgrantees; forged documents; subgrantees providing summaries of expenditures that did not match actual expenditures; a limited or nonexistent RFP process for selecting subgrantees; fraudulent accounting entries that misstate actual payees; a failure by DHS staff to report obviously improper transactions to law enforcement; and others.
While it’s nothing I am proud of, I embezzled money when I was an attorney and it’s relatively easy to get away with in the short term due to a lack of oversight. Whether this is the case with the Mississippi case remains to be seen.
No evidence that there is any connection between DiBiase’s questionable payouts and a claim by DiBiase’s former bodyguard Virgil that Virgil (aka “Soulman” Mike Jones) wants to purchase the WWE. With a rumored price of five billion dollars, DiBiase would need much more to give to Virgil.
It remains to be seen whether any action will be taken against Ted DiBiase Sr. or anyone who allegedly was paid for services not performed. Pro Sports Extra will continue to follow this story as it develops.