Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Former Flying J exec Mark Hazelwood arraigned in rebate scam; trial set back


Wednesday, November 1, 2017
by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood leaves federal court after being arraigned in Knoxville, Tennessee, on charges he conspired to cheat customers out of promised discounts and rebates. (Associated Press: MICHAEL PATRICK/Knoxville News Sentinel)
Former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood leaves federal court after being arraigned in Knoxville, Tennessee, on charges he conspired to cheat customers out of promised discounts and rebates. (Associated Press: MICHAEL PATRICK/Knoxville News Sentinel)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The trial of four former executives at the truck stop chain controlled by the family of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has been pushed back.

Originally scheduled to begin Tuesday, the federal fraud trial of the four former Pilot Flying J staffers is now set to start November 6. Court records don't indicate a reason for the delay.

U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier on Tuesday ordered the trial of former Pilot Flying J president Mark Hazelwood and three others delayed, according to an entry in the federal court system’s database. The trial will be held in Chattanooga, where Collier is based.

Knoxville-based Pilot, one of the largest privately-owned companies in the country, is run by Jimmy Haslam, who is also owner of the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League.

He and his brother have denied any prior knowledge of a diesel fuel rebate scam that caused Pilot to pay an $85 million settlement with defrauded customers, and an additional a $92 million penalty to the government.

Four former employees accused in a diesel fuel rebate scam at the nation's largest truck stop chain struck a plea deal in July and agreed to cooperate with federal authorities.

The company said in a statement that it was "saddened" by the news that former employees admitted participating in the scheme. Company officials said they have "made whole every customer negatively affected" and taken steps to make sure this never happens again.

“It is Pilot Flying J's commitment to be a great partner to trucking companies across North America, always focusing our undivided attention on the best interests of our customers, team members and business.”

Ten former employees previously pleaded guilty. After the plea agreements filed Monday, four others remain to be tried.

John "Stick" Freeman, the former vice president of sales who was dubbed in court documents as the architect of the scheme, is among those reaching an agreement. in July.

 

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