Former pro wrestler Theodore "Ted" DiBiase Jr., the son of the WWE legend known as “The Million Dollar Man,” has been charged with fraud and theft of federal funds in connection with a Mississippi welfare scandal that has embroiled NFL great Brett Favre.
The case against DiBiase marks a significant turn in a federal investigation that has already ensnared the state’s former welfare director and the women who ran the nonprofit group, among others.
Like Favre, DiBiase received money from a nonprofit corporation that was allocating millions of federal dollars meant for poor women and children, according to federal prosecutors.
The DiBiase indictment declares the funding a “sham” arrangement designed to divert federal safety net funds for the personal use of DiBiase, the former welfare director, and “others known and unknown to the grand jury.”
DiBiase, 40, is the son of legendary pro wrestler Ted DiBiase Sr.
The younger DiBiase signed with the WWE in 2007 and fought under the WWE banner until 2013.
The Madison, Mississippi, resident was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to commit theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, six counts of wire fraud, two counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, and four counts of money laundering.
“Today was a good day for Teddy DiBiase," said his lawyer, Scott Gilbert. "After being forced to sit quietly for nearly three years while opportunists took unabated swings at Teddy and his family, Teddy now has the opportunity to fight back publicly."
Gilbert added: "We are confident that when this process is finished, it will be clear that the government’s theory is misguided and that their allegations cannot be substantiated, as they pertain to Teddy DiBiase."
A representative for Favre, who has not been criminally charged, declined to comment.
Favre previously has denied wrongdoing, saying he never knew the money was intended for welfare. He repaid $1.1 million that was paid to him from welfare funds in 2017 and 2018. He is being sued by the state of Mississippi in connection with those grants, but he contends he is not liable.
Court records in a related civil case show that Favre successfully lobbied state officials to grant a $3.2 million for a drug company in which he was a shareholder and $5 million that built a volleyball arena at the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter played the sport and where he played football. The money was directed by Nancy New, who has since pleaded guilty, and was supposed to have gone to poor families.
The Justice Department says DiBiase was paid more than $3 million from entities funded by federal welfare funds “for social services that DiBiase did not provide and did not intend to provide. DiBiase allegedly used these federal funds to buy a vehicle and a boat, and for the down payment on the purchase of a house, among other expenditures.”
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the conspiracy count, a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count, and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for each count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and for each count of money laundering.
Last month, DiBiase’s brother, Brett DiBiase, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government in connection with the welfare scandal.
CORRECTION (April 20, 2023, 8:45 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the first name of Teddy DiBiase’s brother. He is Brett DiBiase, not Ted.