Haslam “very comfortable” with his position in Pilot Flying J scandal


While one NFL legal drama comes to a head, the other continues to percolate.  When it boils, the impact on the league could be far more significant.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, whose family owns Pilot Flying J, has seen five employees plead guilty to federal charges arising from a customer rebate scam.  At least one other employee has told an informant that Haslam knew about the scheme, and at least one of the employees who have pleaded guilty said that “senior management” was aware of the situation.

Still, in a sweeping, thorough look at the situation from Betsy Morris and Cameron McWhirter of the Wall Street Journal, Haslam says he’s “very comfortable” with his own position in the case, even though it seems apparent that prosecutors are working their way up the organizational chart.

Indeed, Haslam reportedly acknowledged the prosecutors may be attempting to secure an indictment for him.  His approach is pragmatic.

“I really can’t worry about indictments because I have no control,” Haslam said.  “My focus has got to be on fixing the problem with the companies [that are Pilot’s customers], making it right if we owe them something.  I got to focus on what I can control.”

Much of the situation is out of his control, because employees are cutting their own deals and agreeing to cooperate, without concern for the Omertas or physical threats that go along with soldiers who “flip” within the confines of drug cartels and the mafia.  For the employees of Pilot Flying J, it’s a simple analysis.  They can plead guilty and agree to cooperate in exchange for a more favorable outcome, or they can go down with someone else’s ship.

In the end, Haslam may be the only one left on the ship, and the ultimate question will be whether it sinks or floats.

11 responses to “Haslam “very comfortable” with his position in Pilot Flying J scandal

  1. Mariners tell stories of the rudderless ghost ship that appears suddenly out of the mist. With a mad captain bellowing orders at the helm. Then it disappears again just as suddenly. The Pilot Flying J.

  2. If this scandal ends up bringing down the Pilot Flying J the result will have an very negative effect, short term, on the trucking industry. This company fuels a large percentage of the OTR trucks through out the country. A disruption in the fuel supply will delay many trucks and consequently delay time sensitive (fresh food) loads. Our costs at the store will undoubtedly go up.

  3. All that has been exposed is that he was aware of cost-plus(ing) customers which is standard practice in many industries. That has nothing to do with not paying rebates. And one last thing, a regional sales manager is not an executive. Typically an executive would be considered an insider.

    Boring stuff. If you think that someone said “hey Jimmy, we identified a bunch of weak carriers that won’t know if we never pay the rebates, suckers!” and he said, “find more, I’m not rich enough”, you probably think Hernandez is innocent (allegedly)

  4. There’s still no direct evidence he knew anything. Testimony by people who secure plea bargains needs to be corroborated with evidence. The highest any of these 5 people who have flipped are still 3 levels below Haslam.

    I’m not saying he’s 100% innocent, but so far there’s no proof he isn’t.

  5. In the USA we are presumed innocent until proven otherwise. However, with execs of this company being indicted right and left, the case for Haslam being truly innocent gets smaller by the day. It may eventually come to pass that saying that Jimmy, knew nothing about the rebate scam, may be tantamount to Obama, saying he knew nothing about the war in Afghanistan.

  6. Retired Army (30+ yrs), I’m currently an owner/operator of 3 long-haul rigs (one is usually down). I can assure you that if Pilot/Flying J goes down, it will not mean the end of American trucking. There is enough competition (except in pricing) and any stations that do close, at least the more profitable ones, will get gobbled up by the competition.

    As a kid, I had several part-time jobs at gas stations (Ohio) offering full service and “discounts” to truckers. Bi-Lo Gas and Cornick Oil each had clubs the truckers would sign up with, and in turn, got discounts on their purchases. The truckers had a paper card with company logos and some membership number (no plastic or magnetic strips). The truckers received the discount at the time of purchase. Clean and simple.

    Of course, back then, the Browns were still a respectable team!

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