More former Pilot Flying J executives get jail time for rebate fraud

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More than five years after the truck-stop company owned and operated by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam found itself ensnared in a massive federal investigation for fraud against its customers, three more former executives learned their fate on Wednesday.

Former regional sales director Arnold Ralenkotter received 21 months, former regional sales manager Jay Stinnett also received 21 months, and former regional sales manager John Spiewak received 30 months. They admitted to approving contracts that they knew the Pilot Flying J didn’t plan to honor with small trucking companies lacking the sophistication to spot the fraud.

Via Matt Lakin of the Knoxville News Sentinel, U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier imposed the sentences on Wednesday.

“This was probably the biggest fraud case in the history of the trucking industry,” Judge Collier said. “You’re all good people who did something bad. I don’t think there’s a need here to protect the public [from you]. But people need to understand if they give in to temptation and do anything at all like what you did, there’s going to be punishment forthcoming. You’ve learned your lesson, but other people need to learn their lesson also.”

Nineteen former Pilot employees were involved in the scam. Fourteen entered guilty pleas and three were convicted at trial. Two others received immunity in exchange for cooperation.

Former Pilot Flying J president Mark Hazelwood received the longest sentence — 12.5 years. He approved the plan that was devised by John Freeman, who received a 2.5-year sentence.

In the early months of the investigation, prosecutors seemed to be working their way up the ladder, imposing criminal responsibility as high as possible within the organization. But they never accused Haslam, who steadfastly denied knowledge of the scam, of committing any type of wrongdoing.

Likewise, the NFL never investigated Haslam for any violations of the Personal Conduct Policy, which as evidenced by the suspension imposed earlier this year on Seahawks linebacker Mychal Kendricks clearly encompasses white-collar crime.

16 responses to “More former Pilot Flying J executives get jail time for rebate fraud

  1. So a company had a major fraud and the president of the company was involved but the owner had no idea? Yeah right

  2. The NFL should have forced CEO Jimmy Haslam to sell the Browns. But of course instead of doing the right thing the NFL does nothing to fellow Corporate scumbag that constantly skims/schemes and steals money out of the pockets of smaller and weaker people..something that permeates deep into the pores of the fabric of our once proud nation.

  3. The first time I saw a picture of Haslam I thought he just looked like a crook. He just looks shady.

  4. I totally object to the characterization of the NFL as not performing an investigation. They investigated this as thoroughly and comprehensively as they have other investigations such as with Ray Rice, Deflategate, Kareem Hunt, Eli Memorabilia and BountyGate. Ah crap. Never mind.

  5. I like how Haslam has avoided everything but those directly under him haven’t – reminds me of Wells Fargo.

    Two sets of rules, people.

  6. The Feds turned this inside out. They would not have ignored Haslam had there been involvement .

  7. How does the judge know they are good people? One of the biggest defining elements of a person is what they do when no one is watching. No one was watching. And then did wrong. How does that make them good people?

  8. The money involved in this scam was a mere pittance compared to the company’s annual revenue or Haslams’ net worth. Haslam not knowing about the scam is very plausible. This company is or soon will be controlled by Warren Buffitt’s Bershire Hathaway. There is nothing more to this story now than jailing the actual perps.

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