Aggressive young prosecutors assigned to Pilot Flying J case

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As Browns owner Jimmy Haslam periodically opts to talk confidently about the legal issues embroiling the truck-stop company he runs, the prosecutors assigned to the case have remained eerily silent.

Eventually, they’ll speak via indictments and, ultimately, evidence introduced at trial.  Haslam’s tightrope routine, balancing his company’s business interests against his personal legal predicament, has created the impression that, yes, something happened but that, no, he’s not responsible for it.

Whatever happened, David Lewen and Francis “Trey” Hamilton are working to get to the bottom of it.  As explained by John Caniglia of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the pair of young, aggressive prosecutors quietly are leading the investigation.

“They’re excellent prosecutors, very knowledgeable and very diligent,” said Hugh Ward, a defense lawyer who previously worked with both men in the Knoxville U.S. Attorney’s office.  “Both are good people, personally.  They’re top of the line.”

Lewen, 37, has prosecuted drug crimes involving complex hierarchies.  Hamilton, 41, prosecutes white-collar crime, like the ones that eventually could be alleged against multiple employees of Pilot Flying J.

John Sammon, a former IRS agent and retired federal prosecutor, explained the key similarity between complex drug crimes and white-collar prosecutions:  “You work from the bottom to the top.”

With one Pilot Flying J employee already quoted in an affidavit as saying Haslam knew about the alleged rebate/discount scam, the prosecutors could be searching for and/or piecing together evidence that would prove conclusively that Haslam or other key employees at the precipice of the Pilot Flying J pyramid either condoned the alleged fraud or ordered it.

And that possibility should send a chill from the bottom to the top of Haslam’s spine.

19 responses to “Aggressive young prosecutors assigned to Pilot Flying J case

  1. Jimmy will get his brother to fix the case for him – Republicans are big fans of crooked capitalists and neo-con jobs – guess which one happens to be Jimmy and which one happens to be his brother?

  2. It’s the “quiet”, focused ones that you really have to worry about. They’re not trying to wage a PR war in the media. They’re content to spend their time gathering the evidence and tying up loose ends. They’ll let the targets of their investigations say whatever they want to the press. That way, when the world suddenly falls down on them, the lies and half-truths they told to the media can serve as the final nail in their coffins.

    Not saying Haslam is guilty in this case. I haven’t read about enough evidence to really form my own conclusion on this issue. I’m just saying media spin doesn’t always work out the way you want it to, especially if you’re suddenly confronted with a pile of evidence that shows that spin was a bunch of bs. Now, not only do you have the evidence to deal with, you also have your own half-truths to overcome. Once a jury thinks you’re not trustworthy, good luck. Even a he said-she said case can be enough to sink you.

  3. Am I reading this wrong, or is the media upset that the prosecutors aren’t talking publicly about this case? I must be living in a alternate universe, because to me it seems the prudent and intelligent thing to not try this case in public.

  4. “Both are good people, personally. They’re top of the line.” Said one lawyer about two other lawyers, as written in a story by a fourth lawyer.

    Aren’t lawyers just swell?

  5. Drove by a Pilot station while in Paramus, NJ yesterday. The place was PACKED. Jimmy will be fine. As will my Browns.

  6. so Mike,
    you have an association with Jimmy Haslam to some degree….. what do you think? what is your gut feeling on this situation? Inquiring minds want to know your thoughts….

  7. “With one Pilot Flying J employee already quoted in an affidavit as saying Haslam knew about the alleged rebate/discount scam, the prosecutors could be searching for and/or piecing together evidence that would prove conclusively that Haslam or other key employees at the precipice of the Pilot Flying J pyramid either condoned the alleged fraud or ordered it.”

    Keep in mind that employee being the guy who was being investigated for being in charge of the scam and Haslam’s fingering sounding more like a “of course he knows so you don’t have to go to him about it and get me fired” excuse more than a confession. I would feel a lot different about it if Haslam was attempting to cover up this whole deal like nothing happened but the guy is shelling out personal checks to some companies who didn’t even know they were scammed. He’s doing a better job of finger pointing what his employee’s did than the FBI is.

  8. Dear corporate America. You deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, like people who steal packs of gum. If Haslam knew about the scheme – not only HE, but those that carried it out deserve prison sentences.

    The justice system should hit those that steal millions just as those that steal a loaf of bread and get caught.

    I hope justice is served to the robbers of money – and if Haslam knew? I hope he faces the same sentence as anyone else that got caught trying to steal a loaf of bread.

    Either way – I hope the Browns are solid – they have a great core of players… But punish corporate robbers like they do small scale ones just ONE time.

  9. It’s a good thing for Haslam that the attorney representing Mario Williams’ ex-fiancé didn’t become a prosecutor and get assigned to the case. Otherwise, Haslam would need to worry about the public release of his text messages in addition to all his other problems.

  10. Oh that is such garbage cherrybop. You make yourself look like an ignorant moron by taking a ridiculous cheap shot at Republicans and injecting politics into something that has nothing to do with it. You act like a child and you will be treated as such.

  11. Name an american billionaire, that didn’t run a ponzy scheme, who’s life has ever been seriously impacted by the federal government.

    Nothing bad is going to happen to him. Worse case scenario is they’ll make him sell the Browns and he’ll makes a few hundred million dollars.

  12. Of course this would happen in Cleveland. We just can’t catch a break.

    If the Flying J/Pilot empire collapses, and the owner goes to jail, and can’t pay what he owes to the Lerner clan, does this mean we’ll get Dandy Randy back as owner??? And, does that mean Banner & Lombardi are gone and we get to “rebuild” once again???????????

    Dear Gawd, I’m a senior citizen, pls take me now!

  13. When it involves as much money as could be the case here, does anyone really think Haslam was so stupid as to miss his employees running a scam that was raking in tens of millions of dollars? Please.

    Now, Former FBI Director Louis Freeh joins the Pilot investigation. He charges a lot these days.

    This gonna be good. It’s not about the Browns. They don’t deserve this crap by their crooked owner. Haslam doesn’t belong in the NFL.

  14. Leave Jimmy Haslem guy alone…. Go after the Davis family and use the RICO act to convict them the Raiders are the cover up to the biggest street gangs selling drugs and murdering on the streets. The Raiders shield is a must have gang tattoo..

  15. “At least you’re not the Bengals?” Really?


    The Browns are, and have been the laughingstock of the league since “The Fumble.” A quarter century of ineptness. Don’t make fun of the Bengals, who have been to the playoffs several times during the Marvin Lewis era.

    Prosecutors should investigate the fraud and scandal that is the Cleveland Browns.

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