Florida freight broker pleads guilty in Marine base bribery scheme

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | Thursday, February 04, 2016

A Florida man who worked as a freight broker for a large national trucking company has pleaded guilty to his role in bribing officials at a Georgia Marine Corps Logistics Base in order to obtain lucrative freight contracts.

The defendant, Ivan Dwight Branna, 60, of Jupiter, Fla., pleaded guilty on Feb. 3 to one count of bribery of a public official, according to court records in the U.S. District Court Middle District of Georgia. Federal authorities charged Brannan with one count of conspiracy to bribe a public official and three counts of bribery of a public official in July 2015.

According to the indictment, from 2006 to 2012 Brannan provided cash and other items of value to Mitchell Potts, a former Traffic Office Supervisor for the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) at MCLB-Albany, for the purpose of ensuring that Brannan’s trucking company client was awarded business.

The indictment also alleges that Brannan directed truck driver David Nelson to provide cash to both Potts and Jeffrey Philpot, another official in the DLA Traffic Office at MCLB-Albany, to ensure that the trucking company continued to receive the base’s business. According to the indictment, over the course of the conspiracy Nelson paid at least $120,000 in bribes to Potts and Philpot at Brannan’s direction.  

A sentencing hearing has not been set, according to court records.

In addition to Brannan, three civilian military employees and one military contractor have been found guilty in connection with the scheme, including Philpot and Potts.

Potts, 50, of Sylvester, Ga., was the former head of the Defense Logistics Agency’s Transportation Office. He received a sentence of 10 years in prison, followed by three years supervised release for his conviction of two counts of bribery. According to the DOJ, Potts took more than $275,000 in bribes, including cash, free rent, home improvements, meals, a hunting trip and other things of value. 

Philpot, 38, of Tifton, Ga., was the former lead transportation assistant in DLA’s Traffic Office. Philpot received a seven-year sentence followed by three years of supervised release after admitting to receiving nearly $575,000 in bribes.

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

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