In February, a Hinds County grand juror indicted Nancy New, founder of Mississippi Community Education Center and Zach New for allegedly transferring $2.15million from a federal grant, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families into personal investments in Prevacus. They have pleaded not guilty. Prevasol, a nasal spray that reduces inflammation and swelling after head injuries, is being developed by the company. Mississippi Today was told by Dr. Jake Vanlandingham that Prevacus is a Tallahassee-based company. He signed an agreement with Mississippi Community Education Center detailing the program’s goals. Separately, the Mississippi Department of Human Services was the welfare agency that had granted the money to the nonprofit. John Davis, the former director of the agency, was also indicted. He pleaded not guilty. Vandlandingham claimed that he did not know that the nonprofit would use federal funds to invest in the project. “I knew it was coming out of MCEC, which I assumed was associated with a grant or some public funding. He said it was not mentioned about TANF, or any other similar program. These comments echo many of the responses from people and organizations who received funds from Mississippi Community Education Center over the years, but they claim that they don’t know where the money came. “I don’t know how this money could have been put in a private or public company. Vanlandingham stated that it shouldn’t be done and that we wouldn’t participate in it. In a written statement to media, Vanlandingham stated that Mississippi Community Education Center received the rights to conduct a clinical trial in Mississippi and the exclusive rights to manufacture Prevacus’ drugs there. Indictments against News claim that they would have received profits in their own capacities. Prevacus is to locate human trials of the concussion drug in the state’s “medical city” Tradition. Tradition houses several healthcare companies as well as postsecondary education programs along the Gulf Coast. “We are optimistic that Tradition will soon have a manufacturing facility for medical device, supplement and drug companies such as ours. Vanlandingham sent an email stating that a state of the art biotech manufacturing facility in MS would create many jobs and provide essential treatments for those who are in need. Former Gov. Phil Bryant is remembered as a legacy. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s nursing program in Tradition was named after the former governor. Vanlandingham said that he spoke with Bryant about his plans, but added that Bryant had never mentioned Mississippi Community Education Center as an option for funding. Mississippi Today reported that Bryant and Favre also discussed the idea. Bryant stated that he had not recommended that the human service agency be involved with the concussion research project. Bryant stated in a March written statement to Mississippi Today that he had directed anyone interested in working with the state to “the appropriate agency for review by subject-matter specialists.” Vanlandingham said: “All that I know is that I have the greatest respect for the governor” and Brett Favre. Our intention was to bring the drug back to Mississippi and to continue developing it in the state. “Hopefully that’s going on in the fall.” He didn’t provide a copy Prevacus’ agreement to Mississippi Community Education Center because it could impede the ongoing investigation. Mississippi Today was told by Shad White, the state auditor. “There was fraud at its heart.” After receiving information from Bryant about improper spending at the agency, his investigation began in June 2019. Indictments state that the conspirators used fraudulent documents in order to make Prevacus investments. This is the largest part of the embezzlement scheme described in the indictments. However, it also represents just “the first readily provable” within what White called a “sprawling conspiracies.” The FBI and auditor’s offices are continuing to investigate. White stated that he had also provided information about Vanlandingham’s business to Florida state law enforcement agencies. Multiple interview requests were turned down by the Mississippi Community Education Center staff. The organization maintained in written statements that all welfare money was allocated at the direction of the Mississippi Department of Human Services. This agency administers the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Cassandra Williams, a representative of the nonprofit, stated previously that Prevacus could not be answered due to ongoing legal issues. According to a written statement by the nonprofit, “Any funding or support provided by MCEC for a specific program, service, or project was generally expressly directed MDHS.” Danny Blanton, spokesperson for the human services department said that “that’s such hollow defense.” “They are their own entity… It’s still them decision whether or not they take John Davis’ suggestion.” Before the fraud, Davis, former director of the human services department, had sent emails to Mississippi Today in which he discussed concussion research. He wrote in a January 2019 email that Favre and the former governor requested a meeting at Nancy New’s office to discuss the “Educational Research Program that treats brain injury caused concussions.” Vanlandingham stated that he met with welfare officials for the first time in December 2018. Merrida Coxwell Davis’ attorney said that Davis didn’t direct any money towards Prevacus. Any grants from the agency go through a process and are reviewed by several people. “Mr. Coxwell stated that Davis could not answer questions about the actions of others or what was going on in their heads. Nancy New didn’t return texts or calls to her cell phone, and Zach New’s lawyers at Butler Snow didn’t return emails Friday afternoon. Mississippi Today previously reported that Favre had stated to Mississippi Today that he was involved with Prevacus News and the News for economic development. “My hope was/is to have the Mississippi concussion drug made in the state of Mississippi!” In a March text message to Mississippi Today, he stated that “I believe it!” Mississippi Development Authority usually leads economic development projects. Mississippi Today requested public records for emails from the agency that mention Prevacus, Presol, or Vanlandingham over a period of nearly two years. According to the agency, none exists. Vanlandingham stated that Prevacus had so far conducted toxicology on animals for the drug to determine the correct dosing; 2) made the drug GMP-certified to allow humans to use it; 3) created a nano-formulation to minimize side effects; 4) carried out phase one of human trials here in Australia.