Federal prosecutors say the truck-stop company owned by Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has agreed to pay 92 million dollars in fines for cheating trucking companies out of promised fuel rebates and discounts.
Ten employees of Pilot Flying J have pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme.The agreement does not protect any individual at Pilot from prosecution and requires the company to cooperate with the federal investigation of current and former employees. M.L. Schultze of member station WKSU in Kent reports.
The settlement is called a “criminal enforcement agreement,” and resolves questions of Pilot Flying J’s involvement in a massive diesel fuel fraud. The Tennessee-based company says it will not contest any of the allegations against it. It’s agreeing to pay more than $56 million to the hundreds of mostly small trucking companies that were swindled out of promised rebates on purchases of diesel fraud. And it is paying a $92 million fine to the U.S. government. U.S. Attorney Bill Killian says he cannot comment on the settlement because the criminal investigation is ongoing. And the settlement underlines that the deal “provides no protection from prosecution of any individual.” It also commits the company to “complete cooperation” with prosecutors and says it will keep reporting to the U.S. attorney what it is doing to ensure no more fraud. The investigation of Pilot Flying J became public with a raid on the company’s Knoxville headquarters on April 15, 2013. Since then, 10 employees – including high-level managers – have agreed to plead guilty. Others have left the company. Haslam insists he knew nothing about the fraud at the company founded and owned by his family and run by him.