Georgia bus brokerage owner charged in $1.9M bribery scheme

The owner of a Georgia bus brokerage firm is facing federal charges related to a bribery scheme that resulted in nearly $2 million in transportation contracts being corruptly awarded.

Atlanta businessman Darrel Fitzpatrick, 30, has been charged in a bill of information with conspiracy to commit bribery and is set for a hearing in February, according to online court records.

Fitzpatrick, who according to court records was born in 1990 and also went by the name Patrick Fields, has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Bus brokerage

In 2019, Fitzpatrick was a senior account manager at a bus brokerage company that provided transportation to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. That same year, Fitzpatrick started a competing transportation brokerage company called National Charter Express.

He is accused of paying kickbacks to Erik Martin, a civilian employee of the Marine Corps Reserve, to steer business contracts to his companies.

Martin, 48, confessed to taking $250,000 in bribes from the Georgia businessman in exchange for directing business to the bus brokerage company and then, later, National Charter Express.

Guilty plea

Martin, who was employed by the Reserve Distribution Management Office in New Orleans, pleaded guilty in late December to conspiracy to commit bribery, according to U.S. Attorney Peter Strasser’s office. The former federal employee, who is scheduled to be sentenced April 27, faces up to five years in prison.

“Martin accepted bribes in exchange for directing transportation contracts to businesses associated with Darrel Fitzpatrick,” said a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

If convicted, Fitzpatrick faces up to five years imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a mandatory special assessment of $100.

Strasser praised the work of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and the U.S. Secret Service for their investigation in this case. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Myles Ranier.

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