Attorney reiterates Haslam’s lack of knowledge regarding Pilot Flying J fraud

AP

Today’s news that two executives at Pilot Flying J, the billion-dollar truck-stop mega-company founded by the Haslam family and run by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, pleaded guilty to federal charges confirms that multiple employees were involved in a scam that entailed defrauding customers of rebates.

In the aftermath of the guilty pleas, Haslam’s lawyer reiterated what Haslam has been saying for weeks:  Haslam didn’t know about the fraud.

“Given the raid by federal agents on April 15, 2013 and the affidavit that was filed by FBI agents, this comes as no surprise,” attorney Aubrey Harwell told newsnet5.com.  “You cannot read the affidavit and not realize that people acted inappropriately and agreed to plead guilty.”

The problem for Haslam is that same affidavit contains quotes from a Pilot Flying J employee who told an undercover informant that Haslam was aware of the scam.  As prosecutors commence harvesting guilty pleas along with likely commitments to cooperate in efforts to go higher up the corporate ladder, it could be only a matter of time before someone points the finger at Haslam.

Harwell already is suggesting that any such testimony would constitute a lie.

The lawyer, who represented former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo in the incident that resulted in DeBartolo becoming the former 49ers owner, is “very confident” the persons pleading guilty will “tell the truth,” and that any possibility that Haslam was involved is “non-existent.”  Harwell also attributed to size of the company to Haslam’s lack of knowledge.

Meanwhile, Pilot Flying J issued a statement acknowledging the guilty pleas.

“The statements released by the federal court today do not come as a surprise given what we’ve been learning in our own internal investigations, but are nonetheless disappointing,” a company spokesman said.  “We want to assure our customers that we are taking every step to correct any wrongdoing that has occurred and to make certain that it does not happen again.”

It definitely won’t happen again.  The question is whether and to what extent upper-level executives will face charges for the fraud that already occurred.

For Haslam, both his liberty and his ability to continue owning the Browns could be riding on the outcome of that question.

27 responses to “Attorney reiterates Haslam’s lack of knowledge regarding Pilot Flying J fraud

  1. He didn’t know?

    Uhh that’s irrelevant, because he postured like he DID know and that what he THOUGHT he knew was that he was being perfect with integrity.

    So claiming to “not know” is a privilege that he forfeits in my mind because of that prior bogus posturing.

    What a loser.

  2. About 8 trucking companies are suing…that’s about half of Flying J’s customers, right.

  3. I may be mistaken but Debartelo bribed a Govenor in a gambling license/approval situation. Bribing Govenor and gambling result in being an ex owner. Yet to be seen if being a CEO of a company with some shady rebates rises to that level.

  4. How much can you trust someone who is probably trying to make a deal with prosecutors to save their own skin – when that person just admitted to scamming people? I wouldn’t call that person a star witness.

  5. that pic in the article is priceless. a women beater and a swindler, clev your on the right road. thank you for selling your crumb share of the steelers.

  6. Did he really think profits were up because his truck stop toilets were better than other truck stop toilets? He’ll pay off enough people to get that slap on the hand that most CEO crooks get.

  7. Haslam should sell the Browns, “NOW!” If he refuses then the NFL owners and Commissioner Goodell should bring forth their full weight and powers to force Haslam out of Cleveland.
    This story describes how the federal prosecutors are slowly working their way up the “cheating” ladder at Pilot Flying J. They have an FBI informant who the FBI claims to have recoded Haslam being fully aware of the cheating of customers at his company.
    Haslam and company already have been found to be cheats! They price gouged folks trying to recover from two separate hurricanes. In my opinion, that’s lower than a snake’s belly! It appears that the FBI suspects that the “snake” is still in the cheating business. “Pilot “Cheating” J!
    As a Browns fan, I do not want this guy owning the team that I have followed for fifty eight years! DON’T WANT A CHEAT! WON’T FOLLOW A CHEAT!

  8. Amazing how some folks leap to the conclusion that Haslam “must have known” when so many of these folks (I suspect) continue to claim that high-ranking government officials “couldn’t” have known about the lies surrounding Benghazi, the IRS targeting the regime’s political enemies, etc. No double standard here. Nope, not a trace of it!

  9. A season hasn’t even gotten under this turd’s belt and I already don’t want him owning my team.

    How many petty thieves are spending a quarter of their lives in prison while these white-collar billionaire crooks walk around with their noses held high, getting a free pass from society?

    Send Jimmy to the can with the rest of them.

  10. Seriously, what is Haslam’s counsel going to say?

    But I can guarantee this – As CEO, Haslam is looking at the numbers on a regular basis, and if he’s not seeing anything that raises the red flags, he’s ignorant.

    And I know – and worked with – many former Pilot senior executives, and I can guarantee you that Jimmy Haslam is not ignorant.

  11. With Haslam’s lawyer saying, “he didn’t know about the fraud”, Haslam must also be working for the Obama Administration or the IRS. The, “I didn’t know” line seems to be flying around lately.

  12. Its kinda funny how if Jimmy didn’t buy a football team NONE of us would even hear about this.

  13. No one here, including Florio, is privy to the details of the investigation, including its scope. It’s all persiflage.

    And bringing in Obama as though a truck stop owner is somehow comparable to a United States President is ridiculous. Except, of course, for the lunatic fringe that will never forgive the majority of the American people for electing a successful black president. Twice!

    Haslam is a truck stop operator, could probably afford to buy a congressional election here or there but never win one fairly, and owner of one of the worst teams in pro football.

    Let the chips fall where they may, but none of you peeps are insiders on either side of this or any other investigation.

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