Feds aim to seize Mississippi home of former pro wrestler whose family received millions in welfare funds

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Months after his brother was indicted in one of the largest public corruption cases in Mississippi’s history, federal authorities are trying to seize the $1.5 million Madison home of former professional wrestler Ted DiBiase Jr., according to court documents filed in June and obtained by the Clarion Ledger.

A state audit in 2019 showed DiBiase’s family of former professional wrestlers received millions of dollars from Mississippi’s welfare agency through nonprofits, business deals and travel reimbursements in recent years. Meanwhile, state Department of Human Services was denying more than 98% of its individual applicants for welfare.

Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the U.S. In a report released in May, Mississippi state auditor Shad White said his employees identified $94 million in questionable spending by the Department of Human Services, including payments with no clear connection to helping needy people. A former Human Services director and five other people were indicted on state charges of embezzling about $4 million.

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DiBiase’s brother Brett briefly worked at Mississippi’s Department of Human Services and was later indicted on charges of stealing $48,000 in welfare money. Brett DiBiase has pleaded not guilty. Authorities say Brett DiBiase was paid to teach drug abuse classes in Mississippi even though he was in a luxury drug rehabilitation program in Malibu, California, at the time.

Ted DiBiase Jr. and his wife were less than a week away from finalizing the sale of their French colonial lakeside house when federal agents delivered paperwork to the person handling the sale, DiBiase’s attorney, Scott Gilbert, told the Clarion Ledger. DiBiase has not been accused of a crime.

Ted DiBiase Sr. was known as “The Million Dollar Man” during his professional wrestling career for his golden championship belt adorned with dollar signs. A Clarion Ledger investigation found Mississippi’s Department of Human Services paid his Christian wrestling ministry more than $2 million in welfare funds.

Though not as well known as his father, Ted DiBiase Jr. spent several years wrestling in the WWE, before leaving in 2013. He tried his hand at business, at one point trying to finance an action film in Mississippi that never got finished, according to the Clarion Ledger. He was never an employee of Mississippi Department of Human Services, but he did work with the agency on his Law of 16 program, a self-help leadership training program.