Tuck has been charged along with Brian Beckett, a tobacco producer in Washington County, Tennessee.
According to an Affidavit filed by Special Agent of the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General, G. Lynn Bracey, an ongoing investigation that states that when a farmer falsely identifies marketed tobacco as grown on his farm when it was actually grown elsewhere, such tobacco is known as excess or black market tobacco.
The Affidavit states that Brian Beckett, a tobacco producer in Washington County, Tennessee,. brokers tobacco allotments for producers in middle Tennessee. One of those producers is Christopher Tuck. Beckett maintains a USDA Tobacco Marketing Card which identifies him as the producer on the farm owned by his father, John Beckett. The farm associated with this marketing card is located in Washington County, Tennessee, and is identified by the USDA as farm number #4178. USDA regulations require tobacco producers to file a form - which designates the location where the producer intends to market their tobacco, prior to the harvesting of their crop each year. The records of USDA reflect that on or about July 31, 2001, the allotted burley tobacco pounds for farm number #4178 were designated to be sold at Phillip Morris, USA, Inc., in Hartsville, Tennessee. E.J. Parker's Tobacco Warehouse is the sole tobacco receiving station for Phillip Morris USA, Inc., in Hartsville.
On or about November 27, Tuck allegedly sold 13,564 pounds of tobacco using Beckett's burley tobacco marketing card #4178 at E.J. Parker's Warehouse. The sale of said tobacco of USDA marketing card #4178 resulted in a false, fictitious and fraudulent representation in that said tobacco was not produced on USDA farm #4178. Documents produced by E.J. Parker's warehouse indicate that Tuck received payment from Phillip Morris, in the amount of $26,392.75 for this sale of tobacco. During the course of this investigation, Phillip Morris, produced a copy of a check, dated 11/27/01 in the amount of $26,392.75, which was issued from their account to Tuck for 13,564 pounds of tobacco. This sale reduced the balance on Beckett's card from 20,770 to 7,206 pounds.
On or about December 1, 2001, Tuck sold 7,155 pounds of tobacco using Beckett's burley tobacco marketing card at E. J. Parker's. The sale of said tobacco resulted in false, fictitious and fraudulent representation in that said tobacco was not produced on Beckett's farm. Documents produced by E.J. Parker's warehouse indicate that Chris Tuck received a payment from Phillip Morris in the amount of $13,835.64 for this sale of tobacco. A check was then produced dated 12/01/01 in the amount of $13,835.64 which was issued from their account to Tuck for 7,155 pounds of tobacco. This sale reduced the balance on Beckett's tobacco card from 7,206 to 51 pounds.
On January 2003, USDA Farm Service Agency District Director for Washington County reported that on August 21, 2001 an onsite inspection of Beckett's farm which is identified by USDA as farm number #4178 revealed no tobacco was present, nor appeared to have been planted or harvested, at the time of their inspection.
On November 12, 2003, Beckett reported to Special Agent Bracey that sometime prior to November 27, 2001, he and Tuck entered into an agreement, whereby he would deliver his USDA tobacco marketing card to E.J. Parker's Warehouse for Tuck to sell tobacco that he had not produced on Beckett's farm. Beckett further advised that he did, in fact do this. He then advised that none of the tobacco sold on this marketing card was produced on his farm.
Also according to the Affidavit on December 9, Tuck reportedly told Bracey that he instructed Beckett to designate E.J. Parker's Tobacco warehouse as the receiving station where burley tobacco from Beckett's farm will be sold for the 2001 crop year.
Kenny Cothron, Farm Service Agency of Macon County USDA Services would not comment on the this investigation. However, concerning a recent arrest of the same nature he stated that it is illegal to permit anyone to market tobacco on your card if it was produced on another farm. He stated that if a marketing card is used to market tobacco produced on another farm is identified on the marketing card for another farm, the person involved would be subject to prosecution.
A copy of the 2003 Marketing Card rules clearly states as rule number one to not permit anyone to market tobacco on your card that was produced on another farm.
Tuck did post bond and when contacted by the Macon County Times Tuck would not comment on the arrest. No court date has been set at this time. This is the second arrest of this nature to be made in Macon County and authorities speculate that it will could not be the last.