On August 7, 2007, the DOJ announced that William Alan Potts, the vice president of a Virginia marine products company agreed to plead guilty, serve a sentence and pay a criminal fine for his role in a conspiracy to rig bids and allocate customers with respect to marine products purchased by the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other public and private entities.
Mr. Potts allegedly participated in a conspiracy between December 2000 and May 2003 to allocate customers and rig bids for contracts to sell plastic marine pilings. Plastic marine pilings are substitutes for traditional wood timber pilings. They are often used in port and pier construction projects where durability and environmental considerations make them an alternative to traditional wood 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. Mr. Potts is the fourth executive to agree to plead guilty in the DOJ’s ongoing antitrust investigation in the marine products industry. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to cooperate with the DOJ’s ongoing investigation. His previous and continuing cooperation will be considered by the court at sentencing.
Mr. Potts’ former supervisor, Robert Taylor, previously pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts, including charges that he participated in the plastic marine pilings conspiracy. Mr. 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 Mr. Potts’ employer, who agreed to plead to two felony counts. He was charged for participating in the bid-rigging and customer allocation conspiracy among manufacturers of foam filled marine fenders and buoys. Mr. 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 and 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. Mr. Taylor, Mr. Murray and Mr. Thermos are awaiting their sentencing.
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division, the DOD’s Office of Inspector General, DCIS, and the U.S. Navy Criminal Investigative Service.