Support Local Journalism. Donate to Cleveland Scene.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pilot Flying J Trial: Haslam 'Absolutely' Knew About Scheme to Defraud Truckers

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 1:10 PM

click to enlarge Jimmy! - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • Jimmy!
The trial against four former Pilot Flying J executives is ongoing in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

On Tuesday, the trial's sixth day, the big news was that jurors were played a secret recording in which a former vice president said that CEO Jimmy Haslam "absolutely" knew about the company's rebate scheme.

Not only that, he "loved it."

From the recording of VP John "Stick" Freeman:
“I mean, I called Jimmy and told him I got busted at Western Express … He knew – absolutely. I mean, (Haslam) knew all along that I was cost-plussin’ (code for the fraud scheme) this guy. He knew it all along. Loved it. We were making $450,000 a month on (Western Express).”

Western Express is a trucking company, one of many that Pilot Flying J defrauded by providing incomplete rebate payments on diesel fuel purchases.

Freeman also said on the recording that “it wasn’t a secret” at Pilot Flying J that the firm’s manual rebate system was being used to defraud trucking companies.

Still, Haslam has maintained that he never knew about the scheme. Pilot Flying J released a statement Tuesday reiterating Haslam's ignorance.

“As we have said from the outset, Jimmy Haslam was not aware of any wrongdoing,” the statement read.

Though Haslam himself has not been charged, the investigation has already produced 14 guilty pleas by former employees, including Freeman, the recorded VP. Former President Mark Hazelwood is among the four currently on trial.

Jimmy Haslam, of course, is also the owner of the Cleveland Browns.

Pilot Flying J is headquartered in Knoxville. The company's board of directors has confessed criminal responsibility in the scheme and agreed to pay $92 million as punishment. The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported that Pilot Flying J has also paid out $85 million in settlements with trucking companies and is now paying for the defense of Hazelwood and the other executives.

The Freeman recording had never been heard in public before jurors heard it Tuesday.

Tags: , , , ,

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, Scene Magazine has been keeping Cleveland informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources, especially as we all deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost everything Scene is about -- our stories, our events, our advertisers -- comes down to getting together. With events on hold, and no print distribution for the foreseeable future, every little bit helps.

A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to Scene. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation