League regards Haslam losing ownership of Browns “unlikely,” for now


In the last paragraph of a very thorough look at the potential impact of the scandal involving Pilot Flying J on the ability of Jimmy Haslam to continue to own the Browns, Don Banks of SI.com writes that, according to league and team sources, “the idea of Haslam having to change his long-term status in team ownership in reaction to the fraud case seems unlikely.”

The key words in that sentence are “for now.”

Much remains unknown as it relates to the federal probe that launched months ago, with an employee secretly recording conversations at the behest of the FBI.  Last month, the investigation culminated in the issuance of a search warrant that allowed the FBI and IRS to descend on the Pilot Flying J headquarters, seizing documents and computers and all sorts of other potential evidence that possibly will prove beyond a reasonable doubt fraud against multiple customers.

For starters, no one knows the contents of the documents and computers and all sorts of other potential evidence.  There could be one or more smoking guns, for example, in emails sent or received by Haslam.

There also could be much more evidence that was harvested before the execution of the search warrant.  The 120-page affidavit that resulted in the issuance of the search warrant mentions only one conversation indicating that Haslam was aware of the alleged scheme, with words coming not from Haslam but from another employee.  There could be other, similar proof that the feds opted to withhold, for now.

Thus, the 120-page could be the tip of the iceberg.  We just don’t know — and we won’t know unless and until the feds decide to pursue indictments.

Then there’s the possibility that one or more of the employees who currently are being pitched under the bus by Haslam’s apparent I-didn’t-know-what-the-scoundrels-who-work-for-me-were-doing strategy will trade immunity for testimony that Haslam at best was aware and at worst ordered the proverbial customer code red.

So while there likely won’t be an abundance of awkward moments this week when owners gather in Boston for their first meeting since the scandal broke, it’s impossible to know how this will unfold until we know more about the evidence that the FBI and IRS were, or weren’t, able to develop.

25 responses to “League regards Haslam losing ownership of Browns “unlikely,” for now

  1. I feel bad for that city. Between this mess and the failure of putting people in the seats of the baseball stadium…bad times but i guess normal times.

  2. The browns have to be cursed. Theres no way a team can his this much bad luck accidentally. If the browns ordered 53 grilled cheese sandwiches, the delivery van would blow up in the parking lot.

  3. The words are so key they aren’t included in the quotation you provided. Are we to assume they are somewhere in a part of the sentence you didn’t quote?

  4. Funny, there was 34,000 people at the Tribe game yesterday and don’t the Jags tarp their entire upper deck. Talk about a fan base that doesn’t support their team.

  5. I think Jimmy’s headed for the gulag, 30 years hard labor – after a fair and impartial investigation by the IRS of course. That will teach him for thinking like a Republican – I mean – stealing from truck drivers.

  6. i’m so skeptical about any irs investigations against a high profiled republican being on the Romney campaign .. Jim was probably public enemy number 1

  7. For 14 years the football Gods have looked unfavorably down on The Browns and The Bills. I hope things can change for The Browns although hiring Lombardi was a failure and with the bar set when Tags gave Eddie D the year long suspension, things are not looking good for Haslem as his emplyees will flip and testify against him cementing the fact that Jimmy knew what his people were doing.

    So sorry Dawg Pound… Jimmy will be in the cage also.

  8. The Republican thing and The IRS is no good, but if you read the profanity laced indictment… it is pretty obvious they Pilot J were screwing the truck companies and the IRS was not just targeting haslem for his political leanings, it was actually pretty disturbing the way some of his employees were talking… being racist… targeting truckers who were ‘dumb’ as they said… innocent until proven guilty… but Jimmy is in the doo part of the dawg pound for sure.

    Maybe the next owner will be the charm Cleveland… 14 years is a long time… I know because I am a Bills Fan.

  9. Mr. Haslam should do the right thing and sell the Browns immediately.

    This organization has too much history as well as far too many deserving fans to endure being dragged through the mud yet again.

    Whether or not he knew of, or instigated the fraud perpetrated against America’s truckers himself is irrelevant. In the end, it is still his responsibility. It is HIS company and he should be held responsible.

    In other words, end the newest chapter in the ‘Factory of Sadness” novel and allow the Browns to move forward without the dark cloud you have brought to Cleveland.

  10. Crazy. browns are one the best up and coming teams anywhere. and they will be in the big dance within 3 years. playoffs this year if they stay healthy and

  11. hate to say it, but does the IRS after this past week have any credibility at all….liberals…pathetic. not that they had any credibility before

  12. timmons94 says: May 18, 2013 9:48 PM

    hate to say it, but does the IRS after this past week have any credibility at all….liberals…pathetic. not that they had any credibility before
    What does a blatant rip-off of America’s truckers have to do with conservative or liberal ideology?

    A well dressed criminal is still a criminal.

  13. Why would an employee do something like that without the approval of Haslam? What would be in it for them? He would be the one reaping all the benefits right?!?!

  14. The Browns are just this guy’s play toy.

    From the proceeds of his criminal enterprises, Haslam is worth billions. His kind are the disease in our country.
    Think about what he’s doing. He owns 80% of diesel providing, retail truck stops. Screwing over a trucking company, be it a mom and pop or a corporate giant eventually costs YOU & ME in increased prices of the goods shipped.
    Haslam is Al Capone.
    Makes one wonder about his gubner brother in Tennessee.

  15. @borophyll . . . “But for now, at least according to league and team sources, the idea of Haslam having to change his long-term status in team ownership in reaction to the fraud case seems unlikely.” Last paragraph.

  16. Perhaps Jimmy and I aren’t likely to run in the same political circles but I like his love of football and active ownership of the Browns. He’s put together a good management team and coaching staff. I hope he survives this mess.

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