Trial for Pilot Flying J executives moves to Nov. 6
October 31, 2017
•Land Line Staff
The jury trial for four former executives of Pilot Flying J has been moved to Monday, Nov. 6, according to documents filed in federal court.
Court records do not indicate a reason for the delay of the trial, which was supposed to commence last week.
The four former Pilot Flying J employees scheduled to go on trial include the company’s former president Mark Hazelwood, vice president of national sales Scott Wombold, and regional saleswomen Heather Jones and Karen Mann.
Fourteen other former employees have pleaded guilty to various roles in a multimillion dollar scheme to bilk trucking companies out of rebates for fuel purchased at Pilot or Flying J travel centers.
In September, former vice president of sales John “Stick” Freeman, the man authorities say devised the fraud scheme, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud.
As part of the plea agreement, Freeman admitted to participating in a scheme with at least 17 other Pilot Flying J employees from about Feb. 1, 2008, to April 2013. Ten other employees have pleaded guilty.
Jimmy Haslam, Pilot Flying J CEO and brother of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, has not been charged in connection with the conspiracy, which involved several of the company’s highest executives in the sales division.
The alleged conspiracy involved fraudulent and false pretenses, promises and representations made to the targeted trucking companies, including fraudulently generated invoices and rebate amounts. The indictment alleges the conspiracy involved either or both “off-invoice fraud,” where the represented discount amount was not submitted to Pilot’s billing system for the customer’s invoices, and “rebate fraud,” where customers who received monthly rebate checks had portions of the full rebate amount “deliberately and fraudulently” withheld by various means.
Pilot Flying J previously entered into an agreement with federal prosecutors to pay $92 million in fines and another $85 million in restitution to more than 5,000 customers.
Among the evidence presented in the plea agreement are emails from Freeman’s work account that show him encouraging his subordinates to lie to customers about their rebate amounts. Other evidence presented in the agreement includes transcripts of conversations Freeman had with another employee who was serving as a confidential informant for federal investigators.