Science

Pharmaceutical company linked to Brett Favre pitches for state welfare fund at quarterback’s Mississippi home

NFL Hall of Famer Brett Favre hosted Mississippi executives at his home in January 2019, where an executive from a pharmaceutical company Favre invested nearly $2 million in state welfare funds, according to pitch material obtained by CBS News.

A document distributed at a January 2, 2019 meeting describes a plan to secure funding from the state Department of Human Services, which operates Mississippi’s welfare program., The pitch was led by Jacob VanLandingham, CEO of the pharmaceutical company Prevacus, which was attempting to develop a concussion drug.

An attempt to foster a for-profit business venture with money for some of the nation’s most needy families is the latest development in a welfare fraud investigation revolving around the famed quarterback, Mississippi native and former state officials.

Former federal prosecutor Brad Piggott, who investigated the transaction for the state, told CBS News that the settlement between the state and Prevacus was “a serious betrayal of both the poor and the law.”

The meeting at Favre’s Mississippi home was not his first conversation with state officials about the company. A month ago, text messages first reported by Mississippi Today appear to show the former NFL quarterback personally lobbying then-Governor Phil Bryant. The news site reported that VanLandingham offered Bryant stock in the company, and agreed to accept it after Bryant left office.

“It’s the third longer and we need you to get it done!!” According to Mississippi Today, Favre wrote to the governor.

Brett Favre
Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre.

Hannah Foslin / Getty Images


“I’ll open a hole,” replied Bryant, a reference to the work of a football offensive lineman. According to Mississippi Today, Favre later updated Bryant after Prevacus received state funding.

Eric Hershman, an attorney for Favre, said in an interview with CBS News that state officials, including Bryant, never told Favre that the money Bryant would provide would be from a welfare fund. Hershman pointed out that Bryant previously served as the Mississippi state auditor, heading the department that oversees public funding.

“He knew who all the parties were involved in. If there was an issue about these funds not being used, or being unable to be used, he should have been the first to stand up and say something,” Hershman said. “He never said anything to Brett Favre, nor did anyone else ever tell him it was a banned welfare fund.”

On January 19, 2019, VanLandingham and Zach New, an executive for a non-profit that works to put out temporary aid for the welfare fund of needy families, signed a $1.7 million contract promising Mississippi signed, which would be the “first” in exchange for money. A right of denial for clinical trial sites described in a future study phase as “1B”. New and his mother, Nancy, have reported on state and state related bribery and fraud stemming from their work for the nonprofit Mississippi Community Education Center. Entered guilty pleas for federal charges.

Months later, VanLandingman asked a state welfare official for money in a text message exchange, a screenshot of which was obtained by CBS News.

“We would love 784k,” VanLandingham wrote to an employee associated with the nonprofit.

“Jake, you can’t even imagine the stress word for us right now! At any rate, we might be sending 400k today. I have to tell Brett (Favre) that we’re going to need to pull this off from what we’re his Were hoping to help. With other activities,” the employee replied, before asking for a “status report.”

VanLandingham replied, “Thx sister. Can we stay in line to get the other 380k? I Ly (sic) you guys.”

Piggott is a former U.S. attorney who investigated transactions while representing the state in a civil lawsuit seeking millions from dozens of people and companies, including Favre and Prevacus.

Piggott said that Favre was the “largest single outside investor” in Prevacus when it received the state grant.

“Both federal and Mississippi law required 100% of that money to be only for poverty alleviation and prevention of teen pregnancies within Mississippi,” said Piggott, who eventually received $2.1 million.

And Piggott said Grant has so far failed to deliver on its promise. “They didn’t do it as we understand it” said Piggott, who runs Prevacus’ clinical trials in Mississippi.

Prevacus was purchased in 2021 by Nevada-based Odyssey Group International, where VanLandingham is now executive vice president. In September, the company completed its Phase 1 clinical trial. The study was conducted in Australia, according to the National Institutes of Health Records and a September 2021 press release. The company said in a separate press release five days ago that it is moving on to Phase II trials.

A lawyer for VanLandingham said in a letter to CBS News that VanLandingham and Prevacus “were never aware that the funds received were received by TANF funds or that it was earmarked to help welfare recipients.” “

The attorney, George Schmidt II, said VanLandingham is currently identifying potential sites for the next clinical trial, “which includes sites in Mississippi pursuant to the contract.”

Favre previously solicited state funding for a volleyball stadium at his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter was on the team. favorites too Paid over $1 million In speaking fees, paid for speeches that were never delivered and radio spots, from the Mississippi Welfare Fund.

Favre said in a statement to CBS News that “I have been wronged in the media. I have done nothing wrong, and it is time to set the record straight.”

“Nobody ever told me, and I didn’t know if the funds designated for wellness recipients were going to the university or me. I asked my alma mater USM, a public Mississippi State University, to help raise money for a wellness center.” Tried. My goal was and will always be to improve the athletic facilities at my university,” Favre said.

Neither Favre nor VanLandingham have been charged with any crimes.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that then-Governor Phil Bryant was among state officials at a meeting at Brett Favre’s home on January 2, 2019. The story has been updated.

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