Mitchell D. Potts, 48, and Jeffrey S. Philpot, 35, both of Sylvester, Ga., each pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands in the Middle District of Georgia to one count of bribery of a public official.
During their guilty pleas, Potts, the former Traffic Office Supervisor for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) at MCLB-Albany, and Philpot, the former Lead Transportation Assistant in the Traffic Office, 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.
At sentencing, Potts and Philpot each face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of not more than twice the pecuniary loss to the government. As part of their plea agreements with the United States, both Potts and Philpot have agreed to forfeit the bribe proceeds they received from the scheme, as well as to pay full restitution to the Department of Defense. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 15, 2013.
The case is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, with assistance from the Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office Economic Crime Unit, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Defense Logistics Agency Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Richard B. Evans and J.P. Cooney of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher of the Middle District of Georgia.