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.