Guilty verdicts handed down in Marine Corps base corruption trial

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, March 05, 2015

A jury has convicted two former civilian employees and one trucking company executive who worked as a military contractor at a Georgia Marine base of multiple counts of bribery and corruption.

One defendant is 48-year-old Christopher Whitman, co-owner of United Logistics, an Albany, Ga.-based trucking company. The other defendants are former Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany workers 36-year-old Shawn McCarty and 43-year-old Bradford Newell. They were convicted Tuesday, March 3, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Whitman, whose company handled freight transportation and brokering of loads at the base, was convicted of 43 counts of honest services wire fraud; five counts each of bribery and obstruction of justice; and one count of theft of government property.

McCarty was convicted of 15 counts of honest services wire fraud as well as one count each of bribery and obstruction. Newell was convicted of 13 counts of wire fraud, and one count each of bribery and theft of government property.

The Justice Department press release states that evidence at the trial showed Whitman paid more than $800,000 in bribes to three former officials at the base’s Defense Logistics Agency in order to obtain business for his company. The contracts obtained were then loaded with unnecessary premium-priced requirements and other factors meant to increase costs, resulting in a gross profit for Whitman of more than $37 million in just less than four years, according to the agency.

It was also determined that Whitman paid an additional $200,000 in bribes to the former inventory control manager of the Distribution Management Center at the base, as well as to Newell and others, who used their official positions to help Whitman steal more than $1 million in surplus equipment from the base, including bulldozers, cranes and front-end loaders, the release stated. 

“In exchange for the bribes, Newell and the inventory control manager removed the surplus items from Marine Corps inventory and arranged to have them transported off the base by Whitman’s company. Whitman then arranged to improve and paint the stolen equipment, and sell it to private purchasers,” the release stated.   

Among the things Whitman offered in addition to money are rare coins, collectible items, automobiles, firearms, home improvements, housing and meals. In addition to bribing McCarty, two other base employees, Mitchell Potts and Jeffrey Philpot, pleaded guilty in a separate case to receiving cash, homes and gifts from Whitman in exchange for favors.

Among the gifts Whitman provided Philpott are things worth approximately $523,662, including a baby grand piano valued at $9,370; a 2000 Pontiac TransAm valued at $22,000; firearms valued at $18,700 total; and a gold Beatles album valued at $11,800.

Whitman’s gifts to McCarty totaled approximately $156,000 and included a 1990 Ford Mustang valued at $11,919; a 2011 Polaris Four-Wheel ATV valued at $16,262; and $6,500 for a 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle and new motor for the vehicle.

In exchange for the cash, gifts and other services, the base employees would delay freight transportation orders for hours, days, or even weeks, then designate those orders in need of “expedited pick-up” a premium-priced service, unnecessarily increasing shipping costs for the federal government.

Philpott and Potts pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme last year, along with another trucker, David R. Nelson.

Nelson admitted to paying bribes of more than $120,000 in cash over a period of roughly six years to Philpott and Potts for preferential treatment on getting loads at the base.

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