HAVERHILL — A former trucking company owner will spend 10 months in jail for bribing a cocktail mix company manager to get $3 million worth of business.

H. Scott Blatchford, 45, formerly of Bradford, admitted he paid $88,437 in bribes to the manager. In return for the bribes, the manager allowed Blatchford's trucking company to transport cocktail mix products, investigators said.

The $3 million which Blatchford's company was paid for its work was about double what another trucking company would have charged, investigators said.

Blatchford owned and operated Optimum Source Inc., a Haverhill trucking company.

"Bribery is not a victimless crime, but in fact has a direct economic impact on consumers," said John Dawley, first assistant district attorney. "Increased shipping and operating expenses are eventually passed down to the customers, resulting in increased prices for the products.''

Blatchford pleaded guilty yesterday in Salem Superior Court. He was sentenced to two years in jail, with 10 months to be served. He was immediately taken to Middleton jail.

Judge Timothy Feeley suspended the rest of the sentence for two years.

Blatchford is originally from Gloucester,

"He's a BC (Boston College) grad and he was led out in handcuffs and shackles," said Robert Long, the private investigator who played a major role in cracking the case.

Long, a retired state police detective lieutenant who used to head the Middlesex District Attorney's Office investigation unit, said someone at Island Oasis Frozen Cocktail Co. "dropped a dime" when it appeared something suspicious was going on.

Dawley told the court that from December 2003 through December 2006, Blatchford bribed Michael Brooks, the logistics manager of Island Oasis Frozen Cocktail Co. of Walpole, by giving him a total of $88,437, investigators said.

The bribes were intended to influence Brooks to grant the shipping/trucking contracts for his company to Blatchford's company, Dawley said. Those contracts cost Island Oasis much more than they should have, said Long, who operates the Bob Long Investigations Group. During the three years in question, Long said, Island Oasis paid Optimum Source $3 million to transport its product. For the next three years, Long said, Island Oasis paid another company $1.5 million "to move the same amount of product."

Dawley said the investigation into this matter was protracted and complex. It was conducted by state police detectives assigned to the office of District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett with help from Long.

"I should add that Island Oasis was extremely cooperative during this investigation and had a great appreciation of how this scheme could negatively impact its customers," Dawley said.

Brooks pleaded guilty in Salem Superior Court on July 9, 2009, for his role in the scheme.

He was sentenced to one year in jail and placed on probation for two years. In addition, he was ordered to amend his tax return to reflect the $88,437 he received from Blatchford.

Bribery is a "real problem in the business community," Long said.

The health care industry in particular has been affected by dishonest practices, he said.

The honest vendors, who offer their services for the lowest possible cost, are too often left out, Long said. It is the consumer, he said, who gets stuck paying higher prices for products and services when business people resort to offering and accepting bribes.

Blatchford recently moved to Canton, Ga., according to Long.

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