Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced that three Georgia men have been named in a 51-count indictment for their participation in a scheme to defraud the government out of millions of dollars.
The indictment alleges Christopher Whitman, 48, co-owner of United Industrial of Georgia Inc. (ULOC), an Albany-based trucking company and freight transport broker, committed wire fraud, bribery and theft of government property. Shawn McCarty, 36, former Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) employee, is has been indicted on 30 counts of money, property and “honest services wire fraud, and one count of bribery. A third man, Bradford Newell, 43, former MCLB employee, has been charged with 13 counts of money, property and wire fraud, one count of bribery and one count of theft of government property.
According to the indictment, Whitman paid nearly $1 million in bribes to Mitchell Potts, a former traffic office supervisor for the Defense Logics Agency (DLA) at MLCB, Jeff Philpot, former lead transportation assistant int he traffic office and to Shawn McCarty, assistant in the traffic office, in exchange for trucking business.
Whitman, McCarty and Newell were arrested on Wednesday and are being detained until a hearing next week.
“The indictment alleges that Potts, Philpot and McCarty used their official positions to defraud the government and benefit ULOC by helping ULOC obtain transportation contracts loaded with unnecessary premium-priced requirements – including expedited service; removable gooseneck trailers, which do not require a loading dock and are therefore more expensive than standard trailers; and exclusive use, which requires that freight be shipped separately from other equipment – even if that results in a truck not being filled to capacity,” the Department of Justice press release states.
Whitman and ULOC allegedly brokered the shipments for services “without the premium specifications and on fewer trucks that requisitioned by the DLA,” however, the company billed the government the full rates that were approved by the “corrupt officials.”
The scheme allegedly grossed more than $20 million for ULOC in less than four years.
The indictment alleges Whitman was the ringleader and orchestrated a scheme to steal and sell surplus equipment from the Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) in Albany, Georgia.
Whitman allegedly paid $200,000 in bribes to Shelby Janes, former inventory control manager at MCLB, and Newell.
Janes and Newell allegedly used their positions to help Whitman steal bulldozers, cranes and front loaders.
The indictment states that Whitman allegedly improved and painted the stolen equipment.
“If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison for each wire fraud count and 15 years in prison for each bribery count. The theft count carries a maximum prison term of 10 years. Each charged count carries a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain,” the Department of Justice press release states.
On October 10, 2013, Kelli Durham, ULOC former manager, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Durham admitted to intentionally overbilling the U.S. government for services ULOC did not perform, “resulting in losses ranging from $7-$20 million. Durham received $905,685 for her role. Durham faces five years in prison for her role.
IN May 2013, Philpot and Potts pleaded guilty to bribery for collecting more than $700,000 in bribes.
In February 2013, Janes pleaded guilty to receiving nearly $100,000 in bribes.
Philpot, Potts and Janes face up to 15 years in prison.
The Department of Justice states that the “indictment is merely a charge and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”
From the Department of Justice:
The case is being investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, with assistance from the Dougherty County District Attorney’s Office Economic Crime Unit, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, DLA Office of the Inspector General, and the Department of Labor 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.