MEMPHIS, TN - Three Fleet Equipment LLC and Fleet Leasing associates have been indicted for allegedly bribing Shelby County clerks to speed up their vehicle and title registration transactions, according to Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons.
An ongoing criminal investigation into the Shelby County Clerk's Office stems from allegations that clerks accepted money from individuals registering vehicles in exchange for favorable service.
The Grand Jury returned indictments against three individuals associated with Fleet Equipment, LLC, a company that sells heavy duty trucks and trailers and Fleet Leasing, a company that leases heavy-duty trailers. In the first indictment, the Grand Jury charged W. Mark Welch, owner of Fleet Equipment, LLC and Fleet Leasing, with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery of a public servant and five counts of bribery of a public servant. One other individual was also named in the indictment, but is not in custody. In the second indictment, the Grand Jury charged James L. Welch, an employee of Fleet Equipment, and W. Mark Welch with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery of a public servant and five counts of bribery of a public servant, the D.A. reported.
The alleged incidents in the first indictment occurred between December 27, 2005 and October 5, 2006, making the conspiracy charge a class D felony and the bribery charges Class B felonies. The alleged incidents in the second indictment occurred between March 12, 2007 and August 29, 2008. A change in law in 2006 makes the conspiracy charge a class C felony and the bribery charges class B felonies.
According to the indictments, employees of Fleet Equipment were directed to pay clerks "with the intent to influence the clerks" to use their "official capacity to process title and registration transactions for them faster and in a greater number than normally permitted by office policy." The indictments specifically state that payments were made to clerk Lynn Marshall. Marshall was indicted by the Grand Jury last April for one count of bribery of a public servant. According to the one of the indictments, on one occasion Marshall was paid to "process 150 title transactions..."
The defendants were taken into custody Dec. 4. Both are being held in the Shelby County Jail on $10,000 bond, according to the D.A.'s statement. The criminal investigation into the Shelby County Clerk's Office remains open and the Grand Jury could return further indictments.