Next tobacco scheme defendant pleads guilty

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

ABERDEEN – A South Carolina man pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges surrounding business with a Tupelo-based black-market cigarette conspiracy.
Fred Brackett admitted his guilt before U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock.
In his three-count plea deal, he admitted to mail fraud, lying on state and federal business reports and making money off illegal activities.
The charges against Brackett said that through his Famp&B Enterprises in South Carolina, he purchased 188,667 cartons of non-taxed cigarettes through Globe Distributing in Tupelo.
Globe was run by Randy Benham of Memphis, with help from Jerry Burke of Tupelo. It was the distribution hub of a multi-state contraband tobacco conspiracy that continues to be investigated by federal and state authorities.
While Benham has yet to be sentenced, Burke is doing prison time.
The tobacco products were brought through Mississippi, where certain taxes did not have to be paid, and taken to South Carolina, where its taxes were intentionally avoided.
Brackett is one of nearly a dozen defendants ensnared by authorities.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
He remains free on personal recognizance while his pre-sentence report is developed to aid Aycock in deciding his punishment.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com