Brookhaven native, former DHS director Davis pleads guilty to conspiracy, theft

Published 10:00 am Thursday, September 22, 2022

John Davis, Brookhaven native and former executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services, pleaded guilty Thursday morning for conspiring to defraud the State of Mississippi of millions of dollars in federal funds.

According to court documents, Davis, 54, and his co-conspirators fraudulently obtained and misused federal funds — including funds from The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — for their personal use and benefit.

At Davis’ direction, MDHS provided federal funds to two nonprofit organizations and then directed those organizations to fraudulently award contracts to various entities and individuals for social services that were never provided. Davis also caused the nonprofit organizations to disburse full or almost-full payments pursuant to those sham contracts at or near the beginning of the contract periods, regardless of whether work had been performed, and knowing that no significant services would be provided.

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According to Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Davis pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, and one count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Davis is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 2, 2023, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the conspiracy count and 10 years in prison for the theft count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI, Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and USDA-OIG are investigating the case. Attorneys for the Southern District of Mississippi and of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.