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.

Anna Wolfe, a native of Tacoma, Wa., is an investigative reporter writing about poverty and economic justice. Before joining the staff at Mississippi Today in September of 2018, Anna worked for three years at Clarion Ledger. She also worked as an investigative reporter for the Center for Public Integrity and Jackson Free Press. Anna has received recognition for her work, including the 2020 Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award and the February 2020 Sidney Award for reporting on Mississippi’s debtors prisons, a first place 2020 Green Eyeshade Award for reporting on jobs, poverty and the Mississippi economy and the Bill Minor Prize for Investigative Journalism in 2019 and 2018 for reporting on unfair medical billing practices and hunger in the Mississippi Delta.