Virginia Executive Agrees to Plead Guilty to Contract Bid Rigging
William Alan Potts, a British citizen who is vice president of a marine products company located in Clearbrook, Va., entered a plea agreement Aug. 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
According to the one-count felony charge, Potts participated in a conspiracy between December 2000 and May 2003 to allocate customers and rig bids for contracts to sell plastic marine pilings. The conspirators discussed and agreed among themselves which of them would win contracts from the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and others. According to the Department of Justice, the conspirators engaged in discussions by telephone, facsimile and electronic mail.
Under the plea agreement, which is subject to court approval, Potts agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation. Potts’ previous and continuing cooperation will be considered by the court at sentencing. His fine will be determined by the court.
Thomas Barnett, assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, asserted that the “charges underscore our continuing commitment to ensure competition for both government and commercial contracts for products critical to our defense and commercial infrastructure.”
Plastic marine pilings are substitutes for traditional wood timber pilings. They often are used in port and pier construction projects in which durability and environmental considerations make them an alternative to traditional wood pilings.
Others Involved in Scheme Have Pleaded Guilty
Potts is the fourth executive to agree to plead guilty in the Justice Department’s ongoing antitrust investigation in the marine products industry.
According to the Department of Justice, Potts’ former supervisor, Robert Taylor, previously pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts, including charges that he participated in the plastic marine pilings conspiracy. Taylor agreed to serve time in prison and pay a $100,000 criminal fine.
Other executives to plead guilty in this investigation have included Donald Murray, a former chief financial officer of Potts’ employer, who agreed to plead to two felony counts. Murray was charged for participating in the bid-rigging and customer allocation conspiracy among manufacturers of foam-filled marine fenders and buoys. Murray agreed to serve 18 months in prison and pay a $75,000 criminal fine.
Gerald Thermos, a California executive, also pleaded guilty and agreed to serve four months in jail, serve four months in home detention and pay a $50,000 criminal fine for his involvement in a related bid-rigging and customer allocation conspiracy.
At press time, Taylor, Murray and Thermos had not been sentenced yet.
The bid rigging charge – a violation of the Sherman Act – carries maximum penalties for each count of three years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $350,000 fine for an individual for violations occurring before June 22, 2004. According to the Justice Department, The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.