Tad Cummins pleaded guilty in the case of an AMBER Alert case out of Maury County that lasted several weeks.
Cummins' attorney filed a motion for a hearing to change Cummins' plea last week.
He pleaded not guilty last year on charges of transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in criminal sexual conduct and obstruction of justice.
In court, Cummins said he had to plead guilty to be "the man that he wants to be."
On Thursday, he pleaded guilty to charges of transporting a minor across state lines for the purpose of engaging in criminal sexual conduct and obstruction of justice. Officials said he did not take a plea deal.
“The Government has been ready and eager to try Mr. Cummins on the charges brought by the grand jury,” said U.S. Attorney Don Cochran. “In view of today’s development and Mr. Cummins’ decision to plead guilty, we are pleased that the victim no longer faces the possibility of enduring a lengthy trial. We applaud the efforts of the FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Maury County Sheriff’s Department and the many law enforcement agencies across the country that contributed to the search and ultimate rescue of the victim and the arrest of Mr. Cummins. We now look forward to the sentencing of Mr. Cummins and bringing closure to this case.”
The AMBER Alert was issued in March of 2017. He and the missing 15-year-old were found in Cecilville, California in late April.
Cummins was returned to the Middle District of Tennessee on May 9, 2017, and was indicted by a federal grand jury in Nashville on May 18, 2017. He has been in federal custody while awaiting trial.
Cummins faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger on September 24, 2018.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara Beth Myers and Philip Wehby are prosecuting the case.
State prosecutors said they would be the next ones to come after Cummins. District Attorney Brent Cooper waited patiently for the federal proceedings to finish.
General Cooper said federal authorities had the more clear-cut case against Cummins from the beginning; so, he's headed to federal prison.
The state plans to add another conviction layer by pursuing the kidnapping charge. General Cooper expects that the teen victim will cooperate.
"I have every expectation she will meet with us and have an open honest discussion about the whole situation," said Cooper.
General Cooper said among other things he's pursuing more charges against Cummins because a state conviction could potentially mean placing him on the sex offender registry.
State prosecutors will now begin working on the Cummins case almost immediately.