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Two Pilot Flying J execs plead guilty to federal charges

Haslam AP

The young, aggressive prosecutors who are investigating the company run by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam previously had been quiet.  On Wednesday, they broke their silence in a big way.

According to John Caniglia of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a pair of Pilot Flying J sales executives have pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with the alleged customer fraud scheme.

The guilty pleas officially mean that the scam no longer is “alleged”; the question is whether and to what extent others will be prosecuted.

Per Caniglia, Arnold Ralenkotter and Ashley Judd (not that one) pleaded guilty in Knoxville on Wednesday to “conspiracy to commit mail fraud” in connection with sending fraudulent rebate checks “to certain targeted Pilot customers.”

Ralenkotter was a regional sales director, and Judd was an account executive.

Here’s the tidbit that should make Haslam and other key Pilot Flying J employees lose sleep indefinitely:  Ralenkotter’s lawyer reportedly said “his client is cooperating with authorities in the investigation.”

It’s possible, if not likely, that Ralenkotter and Judd struck deals to plead guilty and cooperate, in exchange for some degree of leniency.  While Haslam has denied involvement in or knowledge of the rebate fraud scam, Ralenkotter, Judd, and others may testify differently; already, at least one Pilot Flying J employee has said while being secretly recorded that Haslam was aware of the rebate fraud scam.

Regardless of whether the prosecution makes its way all the way to Haslam, it’s safe to say that the prosecutors will swim as far upstream as the evidence harvested from folks who plead guilty will take them.

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47 Responses to “Two Pilot Flying J execs plead guilty to federal charges”
  1. purplepride74 says: May 29, 2013 3:25 PM

    Poor browns fans. You don’t deserve this. Really,

  2. Rick Spielman is a Magician says: May 29, 2013 3:26 PM

    I know it’s not that Ashley Judd, but I think I speak for all of us when I ask…is she hot?

  3. thestrategyexpert says: May 29, 2013 3:27 PM

    Wow this is a big problem. Haslam said that Integrity is the most important thing in his company and this sounds like he has a huge Integrity problem.

    I sure hope this company doesn’t have any customers that are buying anything other than Integrity, otherwise they must be getting really shafted.

  4. jimmyt says: May 29, 2013 3:28 PM

    Rut row.

  5. officialgame says: May 29, 2013 3:28 PM

    Looks like Joey (“Skates,” as in cheap) Banner has a shot to own a team after all.

  6. Heisenberg says: May 29, 2013 3:31 PM

    Haslem is gonna have to restructure some contracts to buy his way out of this one!

  7. thesteelers says: May 29, 2013 3:37 PM

    We laugh at YOU Cleveland!

  8. larrydavid7000 says: May 29, 2013 3:43 PM

    Their sentence should be LIFE.!!!!!!!!!

  9. jchuber says: May 29, 2013 3:44 PM

    The law only applies to poor people. Rich folks can buy justice.

  10. snowman36 says: May 29, 2013 3:44 PM

    Stop snitching

  11. matthewcarlson1 says: May 29, 2013 3:45 PM

    Scapegoats… They take the slap on the wrist and profit later after taking the fall.

  12. citizenstrange says: May 29, 2013 3:46 PM

    This is what happens when you break the law in the real world and Roger Goodell can’t destroy all the evidence the nanosecond he gets it.

  13. joemammy says: May 29, 2013 3:47 PM

    purplepride74 says:

    “Poor browns fans. You don’t deserve this. Really,”
    ———————————

    This is for all of you Ratbird fans: This doesn’t have anything to do with the Browns. And you ladies down there in Baltimore had better hitch up your purple panties.

    Cleveland is coming.

  14. evilglazers666 says: May 29, 2013 3:49 PM

    Haslam has paid them millions to take the fall for him.

  15. markywahlberg says: May 29, 2013 3:51 PM

    Pilot Flying J = Los Pollos Hermanos
    Jimmy Haslem = Gustavo Fring

  16. Iknoweverything says: May 29, 2013 3:51 PM

    Jimmy is going down. When is Gestapo Goodell going to suspend the criok for ” tarnishing the image of the league” what a two faced hypocrit

  17. purplepride74 says: May 29, 2013 3:52 PM

    Rick Spielman is a Magician says:May 29, 2013 3:26 PM

    I know it’s not that Ashley Judd, but I think I speak for all of us when I ask…is she hot?

    ——-

    She was in “Double Jeopardy!”

  18. jagsfan1 says: May 29, 2013 3:52 PM

    Haslam – alaikum…..

    alaikum – Haslam

  19. flannlv says: May 29, 2013 3:57 PM

    Ralenkotter and Judd are looking for 5k1 letters which means substantial assistance and cooperation. Haslam will be selling the Browns.

  20. getyourownname says: May 29, 2013 4:00 PM

    thesteelers says:
    May 29, 2013 3:37 PM
    We laugh at YOU Cleveland!
    ************
    Which would be ironic, considering that if Haslam is guilty, it would have been for his conduct while he was part owner of the Steelers.

  21. mrbigass says: May 29, 2013 4:00 PM

    So these idiots that pleaded out, did they benefit monetarily from cheating these vendors from their rebates?

    Did they get a bonus for it? Or was the motivation just to help the company make money? Seems unlikely they would stick their neck out unless some payola was involved.

    If that’s the case, then they must have been directed by someone. How high does it go?

  22. 23chameleons says: May 29, 2013 4:01 PM

    “I know what happens next …” – Ned Beatty

  23. leatherhelmets says: May 29, 2013 4:02 PM

    Mail fraud in Cleveland < or = football fraud in Cleveland?

  24. purplepride74 says: May 29, 2013 4:03 PM

    @joemammy

    Relax dude, purple = Vikings, not ravens. Wow, you guys are wound kind of tight…

  25. jimmylions says: May 29, 2013 4:06 PM

    Looks like Haslam is “Living on a Prayer”.

    Yes – that jokes deserves all of the dislikes its going to get.

  26. wgray981 says: May 29, 2013 4:08 PM

    I’m a Browns fan and I am happy, not for the team and the city, but that at least justice is being served.

  27. hatesycophants says: May 29, 2013 4:13 PM

    In an organization like this, Sales Directors and AEs are minnows.

  28. Jamie Wheeler says: May 29, 2013 4:22 PM

    Since when do we live in a country of guilty until proven innocent. I don’t know Jimmy, and yes, I’m a Browns fan. Can we just let this play out in court. Anyone that thinks the CEO can micromanage down to that level is fooling themselves. Having said that, integrity needs to start at the top. At the very least, Jimmy needs to make sure his leaders have it.

  29. ghostofgilchrist says: May 29, 2013 4:23 PM

    Tough luck getting stuck with “young, aggressive” prosecutors. Should I screw up, I’m hoping for old, lackadaisical prosecutors.

  30. ballboy48 says: May 29, 2013 4:25 PM

    As a Browns fan, we don’t need any sympathy. Our fans show up regardless of the record, owner, etc. You don’t have to be jealous of a REAL fan base, because yours is one that shows up when things are good!

  31. dontasemebro says: May 29, 2013 4:31 PM

    Just spotted Ashley’s pic on F.B. It aint the same Ashley Judd!

  32. kluuuuuuuuug says: May 29, 2013 4:34 PM

    “It’s possible, if not likely, that Ralenkotter and Judd struck deals to plead guilty and cooperate, in exchange for some degree of leniency.”

    Could also be that these two are falling on the sword and “the buck stops with them”…. in that case maybe Mr. Haslam could be looking after these two if this is where it all stops.

  33. brownoholic says: May 29, 2013 4:37 PM

    Friggin haters. Nobody follows this outside of PFT.

    People acting like they KNOW he’s guilty & paying people off.

  34. yssupasigninnamnotyep says: May 29, 2013 4:40 PM

    Yes Spielman…Ashley Judd is hot.

  35. jetsjetsjetsnow says: May 29, 2013 4:49 PM

    This looks like a job for……

    Mr ‘Special Advisor’ Jim Brown.

    Looks like they brought him in just in the nick of time!!

  36. drgreenstreak says: May 29, 2013 4:51 PM

    Dude said something about stopping snitching. About what? Bosses directing him to commit felonies or stop snitching on guys who screw over your family? Crime is crime, Dude. Snitching is dirty word to you while it’s the action of a responsible human to the rest of us.
    Haslam is now trying to pay these guys and many others off so he and his turd brother skate away. I want them in prison. Cleaning toilets in the prison hospital’s terminal ward will be a good start.

  37. djcologne says: May 29, 2013 4:54 PM

    Jim Brown will save the day!

  38. lbcoach34 says: May 29, 2013 5:24 PM

    an account rep and a sales manager is too low on the hierachy for Haslam to know about – I believe him

  39. iceburgskin202 says: May 29, 2013 6:15 PM

    If he is charged in this what is Goodell gonna do?

  40. hatesycophants says: May 29, 2013 6:20 PM

    Ridiculous. An AE and Sales Director are so low in the hierarchy that there is no way they planned and executed fraud on this grand a scale.

  41. stanklepoot says: May 29, 2013 6:24 PM

    The first guy saying Haslam was in on it was a bad omen, but not really a direct threat on its own. When it comes to co-conspirator testimony, one such individual isn’t enough to convict someone. Multiple co-conspirators, however, is a completely different issue.

  42. jprcox says: May 29, 2013 6:35 PM

    Why are people so ready to assume Haslam is guilty??? Is it the desire to see someone that has money and is successful “go down”?

    You have to ask yourself – if these execs where prepared to admit they participated in sending out fraudulent documents, what makes you think they wouldn’t say false things against Haslam to save their own skin?

  43. phuriousjorge says: May 29, 2013 6:38 PM

    The moral of this story is if the ship is sinking, be the first to jump on the DA’s lifeboat. As long as you’re not the top guy, right Haslam?

    Brown’s fans deserve a break, one of these decades…

  44. jackblackshairyback says: May 29, 2013 7:17 PM

    You run a company of over 23,000 employees and see if you know exactly what every one of them are doing every day.

  45. joshkimjer says: May 29, 2013 8:46 PM

    Sounds like Cleveland should have built that stadium that Art asked for. Thanks for pushing the Browns out of Cleveland and to Baltimore. 2 Lombardi’s and counting.

  46. zn0rseman says: May 29, 2013 11:09 PM

    Nothing but another political witch hunt by the federal goverment attacking any and all conservative political threats. Halsam was a major Romney donor and only a fool would say that the fact that Romney’s top donars have all been targeted for federal investigation by Obama’s boy, Eric Holder since 2011.

  47. bitchimfromcleveland says: May 30, 2013 12:13 AM

    Art was a fraud, period. You can have your trophies, well get ours soon rat troll. Oh yeah, we’ll also go ahead and keep the hall of fame & rightful birthplace of the sport.

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