Pair sue Speight over alleged biofuels frauds

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

PONTOTOC – Former biofuels business partners W. Tommy Tacker II and Janey Tyner last week sued their other partner in Pontotoc Circuit Court.
The seven-page lawsuit seeks compensatory, punitive and indirect damages from H. Max Speight of Martin, Tenn., as well as attorneys fees, costs and pre-and-post judgment interest.
Tacker and Speight were federally indicted in 2009, accused of a conspiracy and fraud totaling some $2.89 million in biodiesel subsidies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Speight cut a deal with the government, pleaded guilty and was its key witness against Tacker at trial in 2010.
Speight got leniency for his cooperation and was sentenced to 26 months in prison. In October 2010, he turned himself in to a federal prison in Indiana.
A jury found Tacker guilty and he continues serving a five-year sentence in a federal facility near Montgomery, Ala.
His estimated release date is Nov. 24, 2014.
Each man was ordered to pay restitution.
The lawsuit, filed by Jackson attorney Oliver Diaz, claims Speight intentionally defrauded Tacker and Tyner, whom it claims were “ignorant” of Speight’s lies and misrepresentations.
The document cites six counts by which Tacker and Tyner of Martin, Tenn., were injured by Speight.
The action was filed in Pontotoc County because, it states, Tacker lived there and suffered harm from Speight there.
Their lawsuit insists that punitive damages are appropriate because of Speight’s “actual malice and gross negligence” toward Tacker and Tyner.
Speight was a longtime attorney but pleaded guilty in 2008 to stealing more than $1 million from a dozen of his clients.
He lost his law license and went to jail.
The Tennessee Department of Corrections online information service shows Speight, 69, on parole from a sentence which began in April 2008 and will be completed in 2015. His probation office is in Dresden, Tenn.
He could not be reached for comment by the Daily Journal.

Click video to hear audio