The former President of Pilot Flying J and seven other executives at the company have been indicted following an investigation by the FBI. To be fair, they did warn him.
All 8 executives have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with the now famous fuel rebate scam perpetrated at Pilot Flying J. Mark Hazelwood, former President of PFJ, is facing an additional charge of witness tampering after he allegedly told some employees to mislead or refuse to cooperate with the federal investigators.
Hazelwood allegedly not only knew that the illegal scheme was going on, but was actually involved in training salespeople how to take advantage of customers. During the FBI investigation, he was recorded apparently counselling employees on which customers to target saying, “customer A, looks (at) every orifice. You have Customer B, who doesn’t even know you have an orifice.”
Already 10 former employees have pled guilty to charges related to the scam, following three former employees who received immunity for cooperating with the FBI investigation early on, which was started when a lone unnamed whistleblower approached federal officials.
Conspicuously absent from the list of indicted individuals is the CEO of the company, Jimmy Haslam, who is the owner of the Cleveland Browns and brother to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. Haslam continues to claim that he was not aware of the fuel rebate scheme that was being run. His absence from the list does not however mean that he’s in the clear. Some sources have mused that if Hazelwood takes a plea deal, that may put Haslam in the crosshairs.
The last round of indictments led to a wave of guilty pleas and promises to cooperate with investigators. This new round snatched up people higher up the chain than the last. Investigators haven’t shared yet whether they plan on targeting anyone else at the company for indictments.
The company allegedly defrauded trucking companies out of more than $56 million worth of fuel rebates and ended up paying $85 million to companies involved in a class action suit against them. They also paid $92 million to authorities and promised to help with the ongoing investigation.