Ted DiBiase's Nonprofit Got Over $2M in Welfare Amid Son's Embezzlement Probe

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2020

Photo Credit: WWE.com

Heart of David Ministries, a religious and wrestling nonprofit organization run by former WWE star Ted DiBiase Sr., received more than $2.1 million in welfare funds from the state of Mississippi after his son, Brett DiBiase, was hired as deputy administrator of the state's Department of Human Services.

Giacomo Bologna and Luke Ramseth of the Clarion-Ledger reported Thursday that Heart of David first received $271,000 from the state in 2017, three months after Brett was hired. He ended up spending just seven months in the position.

Brett was one of six people indicted last week after an investigation found $4.15 million was allegedly embezzled from Mississippi's welfare funds, per Bologna and Ramseth. Ted was not named as part of the indictment filings.

Although Brett left the state's DHS, the welfare payments continued into the current fiscal year despite the Heart of David Ministries not filing any public tax documents over the past two years, according to the Clarion-Ledger report. The organization also hasn't revealed how the money was used.

In early February, Mississippi Today reported state auditors accused two former Human Services workers, John Davis and Latimer Smith, of falsifying payments to Brett DiBiase that were used for his fees at a luxury rehab facility in a release:

"Davis and Smith created invoices to pay DiBiase TANF funds for teaching classes about drug abuse, but DiBiase was in a luxury rehabilitation facility for his own drug use in California at the time and did not perform the services. Davis and Smith created documents and arranged payment knowing DiBiase was not performing the work he was hired to perform."

Agency spokesperson Danny Blanton told the Clarion-Ledger it has since added a "robust committee system" to review requests for money and grants, and it no longer sends funds to DiBiase's nonproft.

DiBiase, who went by the moniker "The Million Dollar Man" during a career that earned him enshrinement in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010, earned over $80,000 as the Heart of David Ministries president in 2017, per Bologna and Ramseth.

Brett DiBiase also spent time as a professional wrestler, including a stint with WWE's former developmental company Florida Championship Wrestling from 2008 through 2011.

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