In early 2020, after years of questions and complaints from struggling families, advocates and reporters regarding the state’s administration of a federal program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the public found out where at least some of the money went.
Agents from the state auditor’s office arrested six people on Feb. 5, 2020, alleging they conspired to steal more than $4 million in federal block grant funds intended to help Mississippians escape poverty. One has pleaded guilty, another tried to plead guilty, but a judge rejected the deal, and four remain innocent until proven guilty. Trials are set for coming months, but additional delays are likely.
While the auditor’s office says its still investigating the case with the FBI, no one else who received roughly $94 million in questionably spent welfare funds has been charged with a crime. It’s possible that had they no knowledge of the overarching scheme or the source of the funds, they may not be accused of wrongdoing, officials have explained to Mississippi Today.
The subsequent revelations about how Mississippi runs its public assistance programs span further and wider than the ongoing criminal case. Here’s what went down:
This timeline will be updated as we learn more.