By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – William T. “Tommy” Tacker II of Aberdeen got permission late Wednesday to travel throughout the Southeast for a company planning to operate biofuels refineries in Northeast Mississippi.
He needed the OK from the U.S. District Court because he’s been indicted and scheduled for trial in Oxford.
Tacker, 56, and another man were indicted March 26 on 10 counts they ripped off the U.S. Department of Agriculture of nearly $3 million. If convicted, they face a maximum 100 years in prison.
Tacker “is not a flight risk,” wrote his attorney, Robert W. Davis Jr. of Tupelo, in the motion filed Wednesday to modify his pretrial supervision. His client, who pleaded not guilty, is free on $10,000 bond.
In a release order signed March 31, Tacker agreed not to leave the Northern District.
“The current travel restrictions … impose an undue hardship on him,” Davis wrote.
In early January, Mississippi Investment Petroleum Co. announced plans to build a biofuels refinery in Aberdeen. In April, it also said Tacker was assisting with equipment refurbishment.
But earlier this week, MIPCO CEO Jon Lunsford denied Tacker was working for him.
In a letter to the Daily Journal, Lunsford said a recent Journal story was “misleading and incorrect” when it implied Tacker “is involved in the business.”
“Mr. Tacker is not an employee, owner, officer or director of MIPCO,” Lunsford wrote.
But attached to the Tacker’s travel motion is a letterhead stationery memo from Lunsford, supporting the change.
“It is vital for Mr. Tacker to travel to these areas to conduct business for, with and on behalf of MIPCO,” Lunsford wrote May 27.
Lunsford said Tacker is “the sole consultant and designer for” MIPCO.
Lunsford did not answer a Daily Journal e-mail about the statements.
Tacker and former Tennessee attorney H. Max Speight are set for trial Dec. 14 on the USDA charges.
Speight is in the Lafayette County Jail, serving out a guilty plea that he stole about $1 million from clients and used it to prop up Tacker’s biodiesel plant in Nettleton.
That plant ultimately went bankrupt and was acquired by another company, although it isn’t operating.