South Carolina National Guard Official Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes to Award Freight Contracts to Alabama Companies
BIRMINGHAM—A South Carolina National Guard official pleaded guilty today in federal court to wire fraud and accepting bribes to steer freight contracts to an Alabama broker, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr. and Frank Robey, director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.
TIMOTHY WOOTEN, 52, a traffic management specialist for the National Guard Bureau, U.S. Property and Fiscal Office, in South Carolina, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline H. Haikala to three wire fraud counts and one bribery count involving freight transportation contracts totaling about $321,949. His sentencing is scheduled Oct. 15.
According to Wooten’s plea agreement with the government, he overrode the electronic system that generated a list of “Best Value Carriers” for freight shipments so that he could manually select a company for a shipment. Between September 2011 and January 2012, Wooten manually awarded 55 contracts to two Tuscaloosa-area companies, identified as C.E. and U.S.T. The freight broker who worked as an agent for both companies paid Wooten about 25 percent of his commissions on the freight contracts in return for Wooten awarding them to his companies. The agent received about $115,882 in commission on the 55 contracts and paid about $29,742 in bribes to Wooten, according to the plea agreement.
The agent is identified in government documents by the initials, D.B. He attempted to conceal the bribes to Wooten by making the payments to Wooten’s wife, who D.B. purportedly hired as a broker for one of his companies. Aside from making a few phone calls, Wooten’s wife did no work for D.B., the plea agreement says. The payments to her “were in return for Wooten providing freight contracts to D.B.’s companies,” it says.
Wooten directed government payment to D.B.’s two companies on completed transportation contracts by initiating wire transfers from U.S. Bank in Minneapolis, Minn., to a bank in Tuscaloosa, according to the plea agreement. Those payments constitute the wire fraud counts against Wooten.
Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine. The bribery count carries has a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or three times the value of the bribe.
The FBI and Army CID, MPFU, investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamarra Matthews Johnson is prosecuting.