When allegations first emerged of rebate fraud at the truck-stop company run by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, Haslam insisted that the situation involved a “very insignificant number of customers.” And the company will now pay at least $150 million to make it all go away.
We’d hate to see how much money would have changed hands if the fraud were deemed to be significant.
As announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, who wisely ensured that the July 10 deal would be announced not on LeBron Day but today, the $92 million paid by Pilot Flying J to avoid prosecution does not include the $56 million already paid to customers who were defrauded.
While the deal does not specifically shield any individuals from prosecution, the fact that it was negotiated by Aubrey Harwell — who represents both Haslam and the company — surely means that Harwell firmly believes Haslam won’t be prosecuted. Haslam would never have agreed to fork over that much cash without an assurance that he won’t be sacrificing a moment of his freedom.
The next question becomes whether the agreement exposes Haslam to any sort of scrutiny under the league’s personal conduct policy. We’ve posed that question to the league office. As soon as we get an answer, and as quickly as I can hunt-and-peck a post together, we’ll share it right here.