Benham closer to sentence in tobacco scheme

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) -- A Tennessee man has been given until March 26 to comment on a presentence report related to his conviction on federal charges of avoiding paying taxes on thousands of packs of blackmarket cigarettes.

Randy Benham of Cordova, Tenn., pleaded guilty in 2009 to his role in carrying out a scheme to defraud federal and state governments, making false monthly tobacco reports and money laundering. His sentencing date is pending.

Benham's co-defendant, Jerry Burke of Tupelo, who ran the warehouse with Benham, also pleaded guilty in 2009 and has been sentenced.

Benham and Burke admitted to running Lee County tobacco warehouses through which sellers in other states could avoid paying state and federal taxes.

Several of their former clients pleaded guilty to varying blackmarket tobacco charges and are serving prison time.

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