Biofuels fraud: Speight sentenced to 26 months

ABERDEEN – H. Max Speight, who admitted he defrauded a federal biofuels program, was sentenced to 26 months in prison today in U.S. District Court.
Speight, 67, and William T. “Tommy” Tacker II of Okolona were indicted in March 2009 on 10 counts they filed false statements to secure $2.88 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s bioenergy subsidy program.
They were partners in Biodiesel of Mississippi Inc., which built a refinery to make biodiesel from soybean oil. But it went bankrupt in 2006 and was sold through the court proceedings.
Just before they went on trial in Aberdeen, Speight worked a deal with prosecutors to testify against Tacker in exchange for his guilty plea to one count.
Each count carries a maximum 5-year prison term and a $250,000 fine.
Tacker, 57, was found guilty and sentenced to 60 months in prison and to repay the USDA.
His new attorneys have appealed his conviction, saying he is innocent – that Speight took the money – and that Tacker’s trial attorneys failed to put on an effective defense.
Speight, a disbarred Tennessee attorney, also served prison time for stealing nearly $1 million from clients.

• Read Friday’s Daily Journal for more details.

Patsy Brumfield / NEMS Daily Journal