NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – United States Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that ERIK MARTIN, aged 49, was sentenced on June 29, 2021 to 45 months in prison by the Honorable Wendy B. Vitter for taking bribes in exchange for directing transportation contracts to Darrel Fitzpatrick, an Atlanta businessman, after previously pleading guilty to his role in the bribe conspiracy scheme. MARTIN will also serve two (2) years of supervised release after prison. MARTIN will also owe restitution to the government, which will be determined at a future hearing.
On December 29, 2020, MARTIN pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Bribery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371 and 201(b)(2). MARTIN faced up to five years imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and a mandatory special assessment of $100.
According to the Factual Basis, in 2019 Darrel Fitzpatrick was a senior account manager at Company A, a bus brokerage company that provided transportation to the United States Marine Corps Reserves. That same year, Fitzpatrick started a competing transportation brokerage company called National Charter Express.
In 2019, Fitzpatrick agreed to pay kickbacks to MARTIN, a civilian employee of the United States Marine Corps Reserves, in exchange for Martin directing business to Company A, and then later, National Charter Express. The conspiracy resulted in at least $2,000,000 in transportation contracts being corruptly awarded to companies associated with Fitzpatrick over six months in 2019. In exchange, Fitzpatrick wired and attempted to wire MARTIN over $250,000 in bribes in a series of at least four transactions. Fitzpatrick was charged separately for his role in the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 8, 2021, by United States District Judge Carl J. Barbier in case number 20-cr-150, “J.” Additionally, government authorities successfully forfeited approximately $1,000,000 of the criminal proceeds from accounts belonging to one or more of the defendants.
“This sentencing should serve as a warning that perpetrators who seek to defraud the Department of the Navy will always be exposed and investigated to the fullest extent,” said NCIS Southeast Field Office Special Agent in Charge Thomas Cannizzo. “Mr. Martin’s reprehensible scheme to accept bribes in exchange for directing Marine Corps contracts to a specific transportation company damaged the integrity of the DON procurement process, wasted American taxpayer money, and squandered valuable investigative resources. NCIS and our partners remain committed to rooting out bribery and corruption that threatens warfighter readiness.”
“I’d like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service for partnering on this important investigation,” stated DCIS Special Agent in Charge Cynthia Bruce. “I am pleased that we were able to secure a significant forfeiture to take back ill-gotten gains from the defendants and send the message that ultimately crime does not pay.”
U. S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and the United States Secret Service for their investigation in this case. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Myles Ranier and Andre Lagarde.