Browns owner Haslam's truck-stop company fined $92M
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The truck-stop company owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has agreed to pay a $92 million penalty for cheating customers out of promised rebates and discounts, authorities announced Monday.
In an agreement with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Pilot Flying J has accepted responsibility for the criminal conduct of its employees, 10 of whom have pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme.
For its part, the government has agreed not to prosecute the nation's largest diesel retailer as long as Pilot abides by the agreement. Among other conditions, Pilot has agreed to cooperate with an ongoing investigation of current and former employees. The agreement does not protect any individual at Pilot from prosecution.
The agreement was signed by U.S. Attorney Bill Killian on Thursday and attorneys for Knoxville-based Pilot on Friday.
Nashville criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor David Raybin, who has followed the case but is not involved, said the agreement most likely signals that Pilot CEO Jimmy Haslam will not face charges.
“No prosecutor would enter into an agreement like this, ask for this kind of sanction, unless they didn't have enough evidence to indict Haslam,” he said. “Also, Pilot would not agree to pay unless they felt the government would not prosecute him.”
FBI special agent Robert H. Root said in an affidavit filed in federal court last year that the scheme was known by a variety of euphemisms including “manual rebates.” Sales team members would reduce the amount of money due to trucking company customers they deemed to be too unsophisticated to notice, according to the affidavit.
The scheme was widely known in the sales department, according to court documents, with supervisors teaching other employees how to do it.
Court records said the scheme lasted from at least 2007 until an FBI raid in April 2013.
Jimmy Haslam has said he was unaware of the scheme. Through a spokesman, he declined an interview on Monday, but issued a statement: “We, as a company, look forward to putting this whole unfortunate episode behind us, continuing our efforts to rectify the damage done, regaining our customers' trust, and getting on with our business.”
Gov. Bill Haslam holds an undisclosed ownership share in the company but has said he is not involved in Pilot's day-to-day operations. Pilot has annual revenues of about $30 billion.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers defensive end Tuitt shifts into high gear
- Rossi: Pirates foolish to bet on Burnett return
- Steelers notebook: No decision on surgery for rookie CB Golson
- Steelers’ Mitchell taking cautious approach about dealing with injuries
- PennEnvironment threatens to sue steel giant under Clean Air Act
- Rain postpones Pirates-Cubs game
- Operating loss mounts at Highmark’s core hospital system
- Perfect storm rains heroin, pain pills onto Mon Valley
- Inside the Steelers: Wide array of receiving options shine
- Armstrong County D.A.’s office to head jail escape probe
- Doctors to be given star ratings on UPMC site