Former MCLB employers plead guilty in bribery case

Officials with the United States Department of Justice say two former employees of the Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany pled guilty Wednesday morning to receiving bribes related to a scheme to funnel freight hauling business to a local transportation company resulting in the loss of millions of dollars to the United States government.

Justice officials say that 48-year-old Mitchell Potts and 35-year-old Jeffrey Philpot, both of Sylvester pleaded guilty to one count of bribery of a public official before U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands.

According to information released during the guilty pleas, both men admitted to participating in a scheme whereby Potts and Philpot assisted Person A, the owner of several local commercial trucking companies, in obtaining trucking business from the DLA in exchange for the payment of cash and other things of value. Both defendants admitted that they took a variety of steps designed to push business to Person A and his companies, including: 1) delaying shipments for a period of hours or days, thereby reducing the time available to fulfill the shipping request and assuring that it would be awarded to a local trucking company, usually one owned by Person A; 2) "short loading" shipments awarded to Person A's companies so that it would appear to require more trucks than necessary to move the subject freight, resulting in additional loads being awarded to Person A's companies; 3) indicating that removable gooseneck (RGN) trailers were required for shipments, which resulted in many loads being directed to Person A's companies because they always had RGNs available; and 4) creating "ghost shipments" where Person A billed the DLA for shipments that were never made. Both Potts and Philpot admitted that their actions led to millions of dollars of overcharges to the government.

Potts and Philpot admitted that they received cash payments from Person A when he visited the traffic office, sometimes multiple times per week. They also admitted receiving lunches provided by Person A several times a week during the relevant period and that they also received gift cards and other things of value. Potts admitted receiving approximately $209,000 in kickbacks from Person A during the roughly three-year scheme. Philpot admitted receiving approximately $523,000 in cash and other things of value from Person A during the same period.

Officials say that both men face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of twice the pecuniary loss to the government at their sentencing scheduled for August 15th.

"Not only were Mr. Potts and Mr. Philpot lining their pockets with bribe money, they were stealing from the American people. I have no tolerance for this type of corruption and theft, and my office will continue to investigate this type of criminal activity, plucking bad apples from the barrel whenever we find one," said United States Attorney Michael Moore in the release.

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