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Report: Grand jury investigating Pilot Flying J, Haslam

Jimmy Haslam AP

The latest development in the Pilot Flying J scandal won’t come as a surprise, because most assumed it already was happening.  But WEWS-TV in Cleveland conclusively reports that a federal grand jury in Knoxville is “now investigating allegations of fuel rebate fraud involving Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and his Knoxville, Tennessee-based Pilot Flying J Travel Centers.”

Because grand juries operate in secret, their existence becomes known only when they issue indictments.  For the five Pilot Flying J executives who already have pleaded guilty, the agreements apparently came without a formal indictment.

With one of the five stating in his plea deal that “senior management” was aware of the fraud scam, it’s no surprise that a grand jury is considering more charges against more executives, all the way up to Haslam himself.

Haslam has denied knowledge of any fraudulent activity.

If prosecutors have indeed put Haslam in the middle of their radar screen, it won’t be hard to get him indicted.  The one-sided presentation of evidence, orchestrated by prosecutors, needs only one witness who tells the grand jury that Haslam knew — without the witness being subjected to cross-examination or any other scrutiny.

So at this point it’ll be an upset if Haslam isn’t indicted.  Sort of like if the team Haslam now owns would beat the team Haslam used to own a piece of.

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37 Responses to “Report: Grand jury investigating Pilot Flying J, Haslam”
  1. jackblackshairyback says: Jul 12, 2013 10:40 PM

    November 25th 2012 Mike.

  2. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 12, 2013 10:40 PM

    If there is no rebate, you must debate!

  3. j0esixpack says: Jul 12, 2013 10:54 PM

    Not to worry Cleveland

    Word has it that Haslam has agreed to snitch on Aaron Hernandez in return for immunity

  4. youarejealousof6rings says: Jul 12, 2013 10:56 PM

    Grievland Frowns make me sad. NOT!

  5. valhalla2013 says: Jul 12, 2013 11:00 PM

    As a Truck driver who has to rely on truck stops for food drinks and fuel I’m tired of Pilot and Flying J taking advantage of truck drivers with their greedy prices. I have often wondered when they were going to start charging for the oxygen a driver breaths when on their property.

  6. vibesid says: Jul 12, 2013 11:08 PM

    More embarrassment for the Browns and the NFL. Get him outa there!

  7. jacketsfan7 says: Jul 12, 2013 11:10 PM

    Oh i love living in Cleveland..

  8. mrbigass says: Jul 12, 2013 11:15 PM

    A grand jury can indict a ham sandwich as the story goes.

    Haslam has just a tad too much cheese on his…….

  9. leftygun says: Jul 12, 2013 11:17 PM

    Check him for gang tats

  10. pacificnw7722 says: Jul 12, 2013 11:34 PM

    “If prosecutors have indeed put Haslam in the middle of their radar screen, it won’t be hard to get him indicted.”

    Rut-Roh……

  11. harrycanyon says: Jul 13, 2013 12:17 AM

    Can we stick to Football stories? This is turning into the Police blotter. Haslam could go to prison for the rest of his life, and it will not affect the Browns or the NFL in the least.

  12. mogogo1 says: Jul 13, 2013 12:43 AM

    As if it’s a stretch to think the CEO would know about major fraud in the company his father founded and he himself had run for years? And the one witness might well be the former CEO who resigned almost immediately after Haslam hired him, quite possibly because he discovered the fraud and didn’t want to go to prison over it.

  13. bigdawgy54 says: Jul 13, 2013 12:43 AM

    This is truly disheartening as a decades long Browns fan. Just when you think the Browns might be getting some much needed light at the end of the tunnel, setbacks occur.
    Personally, I believe the NFL did a poor job of vetting Haslam. He and company already had to pay out millions to settle a cheating scam that involved price gouging poor folks trying to recover from two devastating hurricanes. The NFL had to know this during their vetting process of Haslam.
    Now, the latest investigation by the FBI and IRS of Haslam and company, in my personal opinion, simply corroborates a sinister pattern of cheating at Haslam’s company. And, I believe he was aware of it and condoned it.
    The NFL and Mr. Goodell should work diligently to relieve the Browns and the fans of this negative incumbrance. The Browns and fans deserve better……..”much better.”

  14. green41563 says: Jul 13, 2013 12:47 AM

    Haslam’s agent has announced that Pilot Flying J has agreed to merge with Aaron Hernandez Enterprises to form a new company, Pilot Flying Jail.

  15. wringworm says: Jul 13, 2013 1:24 AM

    nothing to see here… Next step in the legal process considering the company already admitted there were discrepancies and employees committing the fraud.

    What will be interesting is how the auditors and internal accountants get roped into this fiasco.

    ** Editorial correction below
    “So at this point it’ll be an upset if FLYING J EMPLOYEES AREN’T indicted. Sort of like if the team Haslam now owns WON’T beat the team Haslam used to own a piece of.”

  16. bigtime1957 says: Jul 13, 2013 1:57 AM

    Fact is the Team he so calls owns is really going to be confiscated because it was bought with stole money,

  17. brewcrewfan54 says: Jul 13, 2013 1:59 AM

    If 5 executives are all guilty I find it hard to believe he was unaware. That is unless he was just an absentee businessman which I doubt.

  18. burnpittsburgh says: Jul 13, 2013 2:50 AM

    Time for Gilbert to step up. We need a Cleveland guy m ore than ever right now. And that is saying alot…

  19. clevelandschronic2 says: Jul 13, 2013 3:30 AM

    Im a browns fan but there is no excuse for this. Haslem must sell the team. This is gonna be a distraction for the entire organization and another blemish on our browns. This is just another opportunity for the cleveland haters to degrade our franchise and city/state. Im growing quite tired of hearing the trash spewed at us. And this owner is doing the opposite of what we need right now. Once hes forced to sell the team im betting the new owner will do exactly as haslem has done and fire and hire an entire new staff and more changes throughout the front office. This is a disgrace. Sell this team and lets just move on.

  20. msclemons67 says: Jul 13, 2013 3:33 AM

    I feel bad for Browns fans. First a member of the Enemy buys your team. Then you find out that member was taking trucking companies into the bathroom and having his way with them.

  21. bryans49ers says: Jul 13, 2013 3:54 AM

    Just another story of a crook who gets rich by screwing the small guy. Ripping truckers off at the pump at his truck stops gets rolled all the way to the markets and all places where goods are delivered by truck with cost increases to the purchasers because of fuel prices and this crook just adds to the price increase. He’s what’s wrong with this country! Now kick his ass out of the league and let’s look for a good honest American to buy the Browns.

  22. Iknoweverything says: Jul 13, 2013 5:44 AM

    My attorneys have contacted Roger Goodell in Friday morning to express my sincere interest/intent in purchasing the Cleveland Browns.
    On Thursday, Mr. Haslam received a formal offer from myself to purchase in full, the entire Cleveland Browns assets.

    My first order of business will be to raise ticket prices across all sections by 30%, concessions by 25%, and parking by 50%.
    Secondly, I want a new stadium,(i dont like the current facility) paid for 100% by the taxpayers and city or else I will move the team.
    At this new stadium, fans must pay PSL fees ranging from $10,000-$50,000.
    If I dont get everything I want, I will move the team(hello L.A.?)

    Lastly, I look forward to taking every penny away from the gullible Browns fanbase. They have proven to be easy to snooker.

    Sincerely;
    IKnowEverything

    Sincerely;

    IKnowEverything

  23. 6sbtitles2sweet says: Jul 13, 2013 7:16 AM

    Only the Browns!!! He owns a piece of the Steelers for yrs, goes to the Browns and falls apart JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE THAT’S GOES TO THAT BLACK CLOUD SPORTS CITY!!! #CURSED!!

  24. drich1960 says: Jul 13, 2013 7:26 AM

    Fuel rebate fraud??? Don’t we have a good murder to discuss? Man I hate this time of year. The one time each year when no news about your team is good news. Go Vikes

  25. onlyonelbc says: Jul 13, 2013 8:04 AM

    Almost feel sorry for Browns fans… Almost

  26. bodde26 says: Jul 13, 2013 9:27 AM

    no bank CEOs are ever indicted. Noone from BP was ever indicted for almost ending the world (really). More wag the dog crap from our government . secret courts hide the real issues

  27. ytownjoe says: Jul 13, 2013 10:43 AM

    Art Modell is laying in his grave . . . smiling

  28. harbingeroftruth says: Jul 13, 2013 11:01 AM

    Hmmmm not looking good for Haslem. Looking like the NFL will take control of the Browns at some point in the future.

  29. bills399 says: Jul 13, 2013 12:02 PM

    libs hate when u counter their opinions with your own. that is all this article is about. we know McNabb is paid to state his opinion. what u don’t understand is us fans are allowed to state our opinions as well.

  30. upperdecker19 says: Jul 13, 2013 12:05 PM

    Relocate the team to Moscow. You’ll be safe from extradiction there, Jimmy

  31. charman11 says: Jul 13, 2013 12:06 PM

    As a president of a chapter of the Browns Backers I feel embaressed and ashamed of being a Browns fan let alone the president of my local backers fan club. But we will get together on Sunday’s as always and watch the Browns play and hope for a victory and we will have fun doing so..I mean that’s what sports are for a little fun, some time to get together and root for your team nothing more nothing less. . I was happy when Haslem bought the team and thought as the rest of my club here that it was a good thing to have a new owner. But now with all this Bull#*^% it is a damn shame that we as fans have to put up with this. All we really want is a good team that plays hard every week and puts a competitive product on the field. Why has that been so hard to do? I have no idea.. Doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult to me. Let’s just get this season going and whatever happens with Haslem happens. I really could care less right now. If he’s a crook get him out of here. Be done with it. And move on once again. Just play some football and win some games atleast make it fun to watch that shurmur mess was awful just glad that’s done with. Go Browns!!

  32. pmars64 says: Jul 13, 2013 12:12 PM

    To be honest, I don’t think the NFL cared about Haslam’s scams because, if you looked in the closets of most of these owners, you’d find a similar level of corruption & fraud in their own business dealings in one way or another. The NFL only cares that this is public. The NFL is a dirty business owned by pretty ruthless guys who have A LOT of skeletons in their closets. If we knew the truth, we’d see Haslam fits right in. This is why he was approved. He’s one of the boys.

    bodde26: How did BP almost end the world?

  33. ideawrter says: Jul 13, 2013 1:00 PM

    Living in the Cleveland area, we’ve seen sooo much! The Browns sneaking out of town with Art Modell and going to Baltimore. LeBron James and the “Decision” on National TV taking him to Miami. The Tribe coming so close to the World Series, only to have it slip out of their hands. We’ve been beaten and battered over and over by the news, crass jokes and poor sports teams. With Haslem, we thought we were going to get a chance to build some respect with our Browns. And now this. I hope the NFL makes him sell the team and we get a legit owner who’ll build the team this City truly deserves. We are REAL sports fans here. We love our teams and our City. The Cleveland area is a GREAT place to live, work, raise a family, play sports and have fun! For all you naysayers out there, so be it. You don’t live here, so you don’t really know.

  34. niner13 says: Jul 13, 2013 1:41 PM

    Browns fans, I feel your pain. Remember when Niners owner Eddie DeBartolo paid a $400,000 bribe to former Louisiana Gov, Edwin Edwards? He was convicted, fined $1 million and sentenced to probation. He was kicked off ownership of the team. His sister and her pathologist (cuts open corpses) husband ran the team into near-oblivion. The Niners are back, but it took about a decade. I hope your return to respectability is quicker. It’s ain’t fun wandering in the wilderness. Go Browns…

  35. wvucolumbus says: Jul 13, 2013 1:56 PM

    ideawrter-The Cleveland mentality is what gets that city, its teams and its fans in trouble. The moment the slightest bit of adversity comes your town’s way there’s a collective “here we go again” mentality. I live in Columbus and the difference between Pittsburgh sports fan, Cincinnati sports fan and Cleveland sports fan is stark. You can guarantee the Cleveland fan is whining about its sports history, etc. compared to Cincy fan and Sixburgh fan. Do better. Demand more from your owners. Quit living in the past and focus on the future. Maybe then you’d start to realize success.

  36. firestorm55 says: Jul 13, 2013 3:36 PM

    Columbus, the comparison is not a good one. The cities you reference have not been taken through nearly the amount of adversity as the people of the city of Cleveland have. It is easy to say let it go and move on if you have not had to do it over and over again. We say “here we go again” because in fact we typically are going to get hosed once again. I agree with ideawriter that this city is a wonderful place to live. The sports teams aside, which really have no real affect on my everyday life, there are many reasons to want to raise a family here. It seems to me that all of the major sports are heading down a road were they are pricing themselves out of existence anyhow.

  37. jrs45 says: Jul 13, 2013 6:13 PM

    Through all this I still feel those Browns fans are the best in all of sports. And I live in Florida.

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