Puckett remains on school board
Byron Puckett has told a federal magistrate he is not guilty of charges related to the seafood business where he is vice president.
Puckett, 41, entered a plea of not guilty Thursday in federal court in Albany, and was released on $10,000 bond. He is being represented by Bainbridge attorney Gilbert Murrah.
Puckett is under federal indictment along with three others, including Junior Wayne Harper, 59, of Thomasville, owner of Harper’s Seafood, a retail and wholesale seafood business in Thomasville.
The indictment alleges Harper and Puckett conspired to purchase interstate commerce fish, which they knew had been taken and sold in violation of Florida and federal laws and regulations.
They are alleged to have purchased the fish from different unlicensed fishermen, including Charles Stacy Logue, 39, of East Point, Fla., and Ronnie Irvin Burdette, 46, of Moultrie, Ga.
Harper, Logue and Burdette all plead not guilty on Tuesday, July 5.
Each count of the indictment carries a maximum possible sentence of five years imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, or both, a period of supervised release of up to three years, and a $100 mandatory assessment. Harper is charged in 58 counts; Burdette is charged in 30 counts; Puckett is charged in 25 counts; and Logue is charged in 22 counts.
“Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty,” U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore reminds readers in a press release from his office.
Puckett, who serves on the Grady County Board of Education, will remain in his position, according to Superintendent Dr. Tommy Pharis.
On behalf of Board Chairman Cuy Harrell III, Pharis released this statement: “We are aware of no statute or board policy that requires the board of education to take action at this time.”
Puckett was present for the July meeting of the Grady County Board of Education Tuesday night.
The Messenger requested comment from Puckett Tuesday night, but he declined the offer.
The case was investigated by agents with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney K. Alan Dasher.