Lucedale man gets prison for bribing military base officials

A George County man and a Jupiter, Fla., man have been sentenced to prison for paying bribe money and giving gifts for lucrative government freight-hauling jobs.

David R. Nelson, 55, of Lucedale, and Ivan Dwight Brannan, 61, have received prison terms of two years and four years, respectively, the U.S. Justice Department announced Friday.

U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands ordered Brannan to forfeit $120,000, fined Nelson $10,000 and gave each of them three years of post-release supervision.

Both men, in guilty pleas, admitted they paid at least $120,000 in bribes to officials at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Ga., from 2006 to 2012, the Justice Department and U.S. Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Georgia said in a news release.

Nelson was a long-haul driver for a large national trucking company based in Louisville, Ky., a court document said.

Brannan, a broker agent for the company, was paid by commission for jobs he obtained. The trucking company was not identified in court papers.

Whom they bribed

Nelson and Brannon admitted they gave cash and other items of value to two officers of the Defense Logistics Agency at the base in Albany to make sure their trucking company received millions of dollars in business.

Mitchell Potts was a traffic-office supervisor at the Marine base. He planned loads and coordinated freight shipments.

Jeffrey Philpot handled the same responsibilities at the base and was later promoted.

Potts has received a 10-year prison term. Philpot received a seven-year prison term.

How it worked

Court documents show how the bribery worked.

Nelson hauled loads for the Defense Logistics Agency, including many destined for California. The loads usually contained weapons that required satellite tracking, or two drivers, for security purposes.

Potts had approached Nelson in late 2006 and said he needed cash; he was going through a divorce and needed to pay child support. Potts assigned Nelson to be one of the DLA's regular drivers and agreed to assign contracts for DLA shipments in exchange for cash. Nelson delivered the bribe money to the DLA office, including cash from at least two other drivers.

Nelson, in 2007, paid $56,000 for a van trailer with separate compartments so he could haul several loads in one trip, resulting in a substantial profit in billings.

Gifts they gave

Over the years, Nelson and Brannan also gave public officials gifts.

Brannan arranged a $5,000 expenses-paid hunting trip for Potts in Perry, Ga.

Brannan gave Potts and Potts' former wife Christmas money for two years. Brannan also gave Potts and his fiancée two tickets for a Bahamas cruise as a wedding present.

Nelson gave Philpot and another official $500 each to spend at Biloxi casinos after they stopped at his home for a visit when he lived in Moss Point.

Gifts of cash also were "slipped under the table" as the men ate together at restaurants.

Brannan pleaded guilty in February. Nelson pleaded guilty in October 2014.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

Prosecutors were trial attorney John Keller of the Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher.