/DA pursues indictments against Nancy, Zach New

DA pursues indictments against Nancy, Zach New

Hinds County Circuit Judge Faye Peterson has been asked by the state to postpone New’s trial, which was scheduled for February 7. This will give the grand juries enough time to convene. According to the recent motion, the state expects that a grand jury will indict the News with new criminal charges. This case is likely to have many similarities to the first. Attorneys for the News filed a 12-page motion accusing Shad White, the State Auditor, of trying to present their case in the media. The attorneys stated that White’s statements were more than the indictments contained and instead amounted character attacks and assurances of guilt. White’s emphasis on “influential people”, “politically connected” persons and claims of stealing from poor people for personal gain gave the story a special pique. John Davis, an attorney for another defendant in this scheme, made similar arguments in his case. White’s motion to the court asks for the suppression of White’s statements to the media, even though there is a gag order in place. The motion also requests that the judge move the trial, which is known as a change-of-venue, “due the relentless actions taken to poison the jury pool by the State Auditor.” The auditor’s office declined comment. In 2020, a Hinds County grand juror first accused the News of defrauding the state. The News was also accused of embezzling more than $4 million in federal funds that their Mississippi Community Education Center received through the Mississippi Department of Human Services. One year later, a grand juror combined the charges to create one case. Separate federal charges are being brought against the News for allegedly using public school funds to pay for private schools. The trial was scheduled for May 9 by Judge Carlton Reeves, U.S. District Court Judge. Auditors have found that the state criminal charges only a small portion of an extensive alleged scheme that allegedly resulted in $70 millions being wasted or misappropriated. Although the money was meant to aid the poor and prevent poverty it was largely used to enrich the families and friends of powerful officials. A forensic audit in October revealed new information about welfare spending by the state. However, because the News refused to cooperate with the audit, the accountants were unable to determine what exactly happened to the $40 million that the New nonprofit spent. The public is still not able to determine where the millions went. The latest state motion states that the State of Mississippi had conducted an extensive investigation into the financial and corporate records of Defendant Nancy New and Zachary New. It also examined the various corporations where the defendants have either direct or ownership interests. “…additional participation of a Hinds County Grand Jury was necessary to address specific incidents of criminal conduct…which may result in a supraceding(sic) indictment.” The New case is complicated by the way they kept their books. Documents show that The News owned multiple bank accounts for the various ventures of their family, including Mississippi Community Education Center, New Learning Resources, better known as New Summit School, New Learning Resources Online, Spectrum Academy, and private LLCs such as 204 Key, or Avalon Holdings. They also shared a $6million commercial loan with NLR. Although the nonprofit MCEC received the welfare funds, their accounting shows that the sources of the funds were mixed. The auditor’s office and welfare agency officials have had difficulty following the money for the past two years. Nancy New stated to reporters that “this has become a numbers matter” in November 2020 before a judge issued her first gag order. Prosecutors claim that the News used welfare money to invest over $2 million in a biomedical startup to develop a drug to reduce the harmful effects of concussions. Jake Vanlandingham, a Florida scientist, founded Prevacus, and PreSolMD. Brett Favre had invested and endorsed the companies. Former NFL quarterback hosted meetings at his home with welfare officials and scientists, where they reached an agreement. Vanlandingham offered the News a 2% stake and promised to get paid regularly. Zach New then told Vanlandingham that he would put the stock in N3 LLC’s name, according to public records. Mississippi Today was told by Vanlandingham in 2020 that he knew that the nonprofit was linked to a grant but didn’t know their money came through the federal welfare program.