UPDATE: Biodiesel defendant pleads guilty

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

ABERDEEN – Disbarred Tennessee attorney H. Max Speight pleaded guilty today to participation in a nearly $3 million biodiesel fraud of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
If he had gone to trial and been convicted on all 10 counts of his March 2009 indictment, he would have faced 100 years in prison and $2.5 million fines.
Today, he responded to a deal with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and pleaded guilty to one count charging him with filing false subsidy statements about production at a now-shuttered Nettleton refinery.
His maximum sentence now is five years and $250,000 fine and possibility of restitution.
Sentencing will not occur for several months while the U.S. Probation Service prepares a recommendation report to the U.S. District Court.
Speight, 66, appeared before Judge Glen H. Davidson at 1:30 p.m. in Aberdeen.
That leaves William T. “Tommy” Tacker II of Aberdeen the sole defendant in the case.
Speight and Tacker were partners in the operation, which went bankrupt in 2006. In 2008, Speight went to state prison in Tennessee after pleading guilty to stealing more than $1 million from several legal clients.
Tacker, 56, pleaded not guilty to the federal charges and has a Feb. 22 trial date. He insists he was just the operations man on site and that Speight was responsible for the company finances and reports.

For more, read Friday’s NEMS Daily Journal.