Ex-Jackson Airport Official Pleas Guilty to Money Laundering

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- Billy G. Tucker, one-time head of security at the Jackson International Airport, pleaded guilty Friday to federal money-laundering charges.

Tucker, in a plea agreement, acknowledged using money derived from illegal drug trafficking to purchase a 1995 sports utility vehicle on Feb. 11, 2000. Prosecutors said the money came from convicted drug dealer Starsky Darnell Redd.

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate scheduled a Sept. 26 sentencing hearing for the 57-year-old Tucker, who faces a maximum 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Moses said the government will dismiss the remaining three counts against Tucker at his sentencing in exchange for his guilty plea and will recommend a reduced sentence.

Tucker, living in Hawaii at the time he was indicted, was one of nine people charged in February 2004 in an alleged drug money laundering scheme, federal agents said.

Prosecutors said that in a scheme dating back to 1996, the nine were involved in a conspiracy of importing and selling drugs, then disguising the financial transactions and using the money to buy homes, luxury vehicles and a boat.

Redd and Tucker were charged with money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering and engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity.

Redd was convicted and sentenced in 2002 to 24 years in prison in a separate case. He has yet to face trial on the new charges.