ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A trucking company owner forfeited millions of dollars after his federal conviction.
Government officials seized nearly $18 million in property and money, including more than 100 properties in South Georgia and Florida.
The seizures come after a jury convicted Christopher Whitman on 54 counts of scamming the federal government with fraudulent trucking contracts at Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia.
The Commanding Officer at MCLB will now check all trucks and equipment entering and leaving the base.
"Normally you would take threats to the base from the outside, not inside," said Col. Don Davis, Commanding Officer at the base. "But we've come to realize that we also have to look at and protect ourselves from things leaving that shouldn't be leaving."
Colonel Davis said approximately 200 trucks go in and 200 go off of the base each day, and they have tightened up auditing and checks of verification papers.
Col. Don Davis's full statement from MCLB, Albany:
"We are extremely grateful for the efforts of everyone involved with the investigation and prosecution of this case," Col. Don Davis, commanding officer, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, said. "Our Marines and base personnel take their jobs in support of warfighters around the globe very seriously. We pride ourselves in being good stewards of the tax payer dollar; and as such, whenever fraud, waste and abuse are identified we need to address it immediately. This case serves as a reminder of that commitment; and those who participate in illegal activities will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We will continue to focus on our main mission of supporting and enabling Marines to be most ready when the nation is least ready, and to deploy to any clime or place."
The U.S. Justice Department released this statement:
Two former civilian employees at the Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) in Albany, Georgia, and one military contractor were convicted by a federal jury today of bribery and fraud charges related to military trucking contracts, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore of the Middle District of Georgia.
Christopher Whitman, 48, co-owner of United Logistics, an Albany-based trucking company and freight transportation broker, was convicted of 43 counts of honest services wire fraud, five counts of bribery, five counts of obstructing justice and one count of theft of government property. Shawn McCarty, 36, of Albany, Georgia, a former employee at the MCLB-Albany, was convicted of 15 counts of honest services wire fraud, one count of bribery and one count of obstructing justice. Bradford Newell, 43, of Sylvester, Georgia, also a former employee at the MCLB-Albany, was convicted of 13 counts of honest services wire fraud, one count of bribery and one count of theft of government property.
According to evidence presented at trial, Whitman paid more than $800,000 in bribes to three former officials of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) at the MCLB-Albany, including the head of the DLA Traffic Office and McCarty, to obtain commercial trucking business from the base. The transportation contracts were loaded with unnecessary premium-priced requirements, including expedited service, expensive 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. As a result of these contracts, Whitman's company grossed more than $37 million over less than four years.
The evidence further demonstrated that Whitman paid approximately $200,000 in bribes to the former inventory control manager of the Distribution Management Center at MCLB-Albany, 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. 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.
One former United Logistics employee, a business partner of Whitman's, two former DLA officials and another MCLB official previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the fraud and corruption scheme.
The case was 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 Deputy Chief J.P. Cooney and Trial Attorney Richard B. Evans of the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher of the Middle District of Georgia. The associated forfeiture litigation is being handled by Assistant Deputy Chief Darrin McCullough of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section and the Middle District of Georgia.