Perhaps the most ominous aspect of Monday’s raid by FBI and IRS officials on the headquarters of Pilot Flying J, the company run by — and the self-proclaimed “first love” of — Browns owner Jimmy Haslam comes from the decision of the federal authorities to provide no information at all about the situation.
”Any details that would be released to the public would not be available for some time,” FBI spokesman Marshall Stone told the Associated Press in the aftermath of the lock down of the building. It came swiftly, with the apparent goal of ensuring that no evidence would be modified or destroyed.
This tactic suggests suspicion that the targets of the investigation knew that they were doing something that was illegal or close to it. Overall, the decision to swoop in and seize evidence implies that authorities were able to persuade a judge that probable cause exists to believe that one or more crimes have been committed.
Though the precise nature of the suspected crimes isn’t clear, the presence of the IRS points to potential violations of the federal tax laws, possibly arising from the manner in which this privately-owned billion-dollar business was keeping its books. Price-gouging claims in the wake of Hurricane Ike may have landed the company on the IRS radar; matters of this nature also may come to light after disgruntled and/or conscientious employees blow the whistle.
For now, it appears that nothing more will be said by the feds until the time comes to issue indictments, if Monday’s raid yielded the evidence that authorities believed they would find. None of this means that the charges will extend to the top of the organization, but it’s safe to say that the FBI and IRS will start at the bottom and work their way as high as the evidence will take them.
Absent some sort of a truck-stop omertà, there’s really no limit as to where this could go.