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May 9, 2013

Former military base workers admit taking bribes

ALBANY, Ga. — Two former military base employees in Albany pleaded guilty Wednesday to receiving bribes in a scheme that prosecutors say cost the federal government millions of dollars.

Mitchell D. Potts, 48, and Jeffrey S. Philpot, 35, both of Sylvester, were accused of participating in a scheme to funnel freight hauling business from the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany to a local transportation company, federal prosecutors said.

Potts was the traffic office supervisor for the Defense Logistics Agency at the base, and Philpot was the lead transportation assistant in the traffic office. The pair helped the owner of several local commercial trucking companies secure business from the agency in exchange for cash and other items of value, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the pair used a variety of methods to push business to the owner of the trucking companies, including: delaying shipping long enough that it could only be awarded to a local company; loading shipments in such a way that they would appear to require more trucks than necessary, resulting in additional loads; indicating that removable gooseneck trailers were required, which resulted in shipments going to their partner because he always had those trailers available; and creating “ghost shipments” so the military was billed for shipments were never made.

Potts acknowledged receiving about $209,000 in kickbacks from the truck company owner during the roughly three-year scheme, authorities said. Philpot said he received about $523,000 in cash and other items, according to officials.

Sentencing is set for Aug. 15. Both men 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 federal prosecutors, both men have agreed to forfeit the proceeds they received from the scheme, as well as to pay full restitution to the Department of Defense.

 

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