UPDATE: Tacker faces rest of life in prison

By Patsy R. Brumfied/NEMS Daily Journal

ABERDEEN – Biodiesel entrepreneur William T. “Tommy” Tacker II of Okolona faces up to 50 years in prison after a federal jury convicted him of a $3 million subsidy fraud Wednesday.

Tacker, 56, will remain free on bond until he is sentenced in a couple of months by Senior Judge Glen H. Davidson.

This trial began Monday and focused on 10 charges against Tacker, accused of conspiracy, filing fraudulent documents and aiding and abetting the fraud of the U.S. Department of Energy’s biofuels subsidy program. He built and operated a biodiesel refinery in Nettleton from 2003 until it went bankrupt in 2006.

The jury wasn’t out long. The 12 members went to lunch about 11:30 and delivered the guilty verdict at 1:45 p.m.

They apparently believed Tacker’s co-defendant, H. Max Speight, of Martin, Tenn., who admitted filing virtually all the fraudulent documents. Speight said Tacker knew all about the scheme.

When the verdict was read, Tacker didn’t appear to react emotionally, despite the realities of a possible lengthy sentence.

Davidson told him the U.S. Probation Service will take six to eight weeks to prepare a pre-sentence report that will provide the judge with guidelines on Tacker’s sentence.

Assistant U.S. attorneys Robert Mims and Clay Dabbs prosecuted the case. Chip Davis and Rhett Wise of Tupelo represented Tacker.

Whether Tacker will appeal the conviction was not known right after the verdict, when he and his attorneys left the courtroom to meet with a probation official.

Tacker also faces up to $2.5 million in fines.

Speight pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count two weeks ago and also faces sentencing.

For more, read Thursday’s Daily Journal.