FBI: Pilot worker says Haslam knew of rebate fraud
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An FBI agent’s affidavit says a Pilot Flying J employee told authorities that Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam knew about rebate fraud at the truck stop chain his family owns.
The 120-page document was filed Thursday in federal court in Knoxville, where Pilot is based. It identifies the employee only as a confidential source.
The employee told investigators that the rebate scheme was discussed during sales meetings attended by Haslam and Pilot President Mark Hazelwood.
Haslam said in written statement, “I maintain that the foundation of this company is built on its integrity and that any willful wrongdoing by any employee of this company at any time is intolerable.”
He said the company would continue to cooperate with authorities and conduct its own investigation.
The company headquarters was raided Monday by FBI and IRS agents. Pilot Flying J is a private company mostly owned by Haslam; his brother Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; their father and company founder Jim Haslam; and other family members.
Pilot-Flying J is the nation’s No. 1 retailer of diesel fuel, and its customer rebate program with trucking firms is at the center of the investigation.
The affidavit was filed to secure the search warrants used in Monday’s raid.
It said top sales officials engaged in a conspiracy and scheme to defraud customers by withholding diesel fuel price rebates in order to increase the profitability of Pilot and the sales commissions of Pilot employees who participated in the fraud.