ALBANY, Ga. -- Mitchell D Potts, 48 and Jeffrey S. Philpot, 35, pleaded guilty Wednesday to receiving bribes related to a scheme to funnel freight hauling business to a local transportation company, according to a press release for the U.S. Department of Justice.
Acting Assistant Attorney General, Mythili Raman of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney, Michael J. Moore for the Middle District of Georgia agreed the scheme resulted in the loss of millions of dollars to the United States government.
Potts and Philpot, both of Sylvester, pleaded guilty to one count of bribery to a public official before U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands in the Middle District of Georgia, Albany office.
During their pleas, Potts, the former traffic office supervisor for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) at Marine Corps Logistics Base-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 payments of cash and other things of value.
Both Potts and Philpot admitted they took a variety of steps designed to push business to Person A and his companies, including:
- 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 owned by Person A.
- Short loading shipments awarded to Person A's companies so that it would appear to require more trucks than necessary.
- 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.
- Creating "ghost shipments" where Person A billed the DLA for shipments that were never made.
The defendants admitted to receiving cash payments from Person A when he visited the traffic office, sometimes multiple times each week. Potts also admitted receiving approximately $209,000 in kickbacks from Person A during the roughly three-year scheme. Philpot admitted to receiving approximately $523,000 in cash and other things of value 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 federal government. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 15.