As Browns owner Jimmy Haslam deals with the fallout from a federal investigation that resulted in a surprise raid of Pilot Flying J headquarters nearly four weeks ago, he must balance not saying things that will compromise his legal interests with saying enough to help his business interests.
On Thursday, the pendulum will swing toward the latter, when Haslam speaks at a trucking company seminar in Indianapolis. The crowd could be a little hostile, given that Pilot Flying J allegedly preyed on trucking companies deemed sufficiently unsophisticated to spot that they were being shorted financially.
“We were invited and considered it a good opportunity to communicate with the trucking industry,” Pilot Flying J spokesman Alan Carmichael told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Making the opportunity even better for Haslam is that he’ll speak for 20-25 minutes and then answer previously submitted questions, allowing Haslam (and his lawyers) to hand-pick the topics to be addressed and to script the things Haslam will say.
“We don’t want to put anyone in the position of having to answer questions off the cuff, especially when they’re under a federal investigation,” said Gregory Feary, the president of the law firm hosting the seminar.
It’s a fair point, because anything Haslam says can and will be used against him by the feds, if/when he or anyone else is prosecuted for customer rebate/discount fraud. So anything and everything he says will be determined based on what impact, if any, it will have on the federal investigation.
Ultimately, then, a desire to stay out of jail trumps the desire to remain in business.