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NEW ORLEANS (Tribune News Service) — A transportation supervisor at the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve support facility in Louisiana was sentenced to 45 months in prison this week after admitting to taking $250,000 in kickbacks in return for funneling $1.9 million in contracts to an Atlanta bus company.

Erik Martin, 49, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery on Dec. 28. He was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Wendy Vitter, who also ordered him to pay restitution.

Martin worked at the support facility in Algiers and was in charge of managing transportation for about 100,000 Marine reserves across the country.

In 2016, Martin met Darrel Fitzpatrick, who owned National Charter Express, a firm that served as a bus service broker, according to U.S. Attorney Duane Evans’ office.

Martin fell on hard times three years later, and Fitzpatrick offered to pay him kickbacks if he would help steer the Marines’ transportation contracts to the company.

Martin arranged for the Algiers support facility to send 72 payments totaling $1.9 million to Fitzgerald’s company, prosecutors said. In exchange, Fitzpatrick wired $110,000 to Martin.

Fitzpatrick later tried to wire a separate payment of $140,000 to Martin, but it didn’t go through after the bank raised questions. Both men attempted to convince officials that the money Fitzpatrick sent to Martin was loaned. But authorities determined the payments were kickbacks and filed bribery charges against both men.

The case against Fitzpatrick is still pending. However, the charges filed against him on Dec. 21 were contained in a bill of information, which is generally a sign that a defendant intends to plead guilty.

In a statement Thursday, Thomas Cannizzo of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service — which probes misconduct in the Marines — said Martin damaged the integrity of the government’s bidding process and wasted taxpayer money.

“This sentencing should serve as a warning that perpetrators who seek to defraud the Department of the Navy will always be exposed,” Cannizzo’s statement said.


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